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How To Write And Deliver A Great Graduation Speech

if you've accepted an invitation to make

a graduation speech you're definitely

taking on a tough task because as

speeches go the graduation speech is

probably second only to the eulogy as a

challenge for non professional speakers

here's why let's be honest the graduates

are eager to get through the ceremony

and start the parties

family and friends of the graduates are

often packed into an auditorium or even

a gym where the seats and the climate

may not be so comfortable they don't

want to hang around very long either so

considering this how do you write and

deliver a graduation speech they'll be

glad they heard here are some tips

really make an effort to keep it short

graduation audiences really start

getting restless in about the 15 minute

mark and then they get downright

resentful if you hit 20 make sure you

know your audience what are their

interests and values look for subject

matter that will appeal to them write

your thoughts down on small sheets of

paper or index cards to take up to the

stage with you stack them edit them

organize them into an outline craft a

message or use a theme what do you know

through experience or education that the

graduates don't what a lesson have you

learned that will be instructive and

valuable to them use anecdotes and

stories to illustrate your points

personal stories are best if you have

good ones but stories you've heard about

other people will work well too if

they're relevant and interesting oh by

the way did I mention keep it short

be really careful trying to use humor

very few speakers are good at it

so avoid inserting jokes in your

graduation speech just to try to get a

laugh very often it doesn't work and

sometimes it could even damage your

credibility

speaking of damaging your credibility

watch out for superlatives they get old

pretty fast if you keep using them over

and over again take it easy on words

like the best the greatest the most etc

avoid cliches try to find an interesting

way to say something that the audience

hasn't heard a million times before use

relevant quotations since the Internet

has come along it's not hard to find

them oh and let's see don't forget keep

it short practicing your speech in

advance of course can make a big

difference you can practice in front of

a mirror

talking to a digital or tape recorder or

best of all use a video recorder if

you're using audio or video tape be sure

to go back and critique yourself if

there's time you may want to record your

entire graduation speech burn it onto a

CD and listen to it over and over in

your car this is especially helpful if

you have to do a long commute every day

test all your stories anecdotes or any

attempts at humor on your friends family

or coworkers gauge their reaction to

what you say and definitely stress to

them that they should be brutally honest

time your speech don't just guess edit

as necessary and as I've said how many

times before keep it short

now let's take a minute to talk about

some technical issues you should

definitely Scout the setting make sure

you check out the sound system and the

lighting so you know what to expect now

there was one instance where I had a

bright light shining in my eyes a

spotlight actually during my

presentation the light was so bright I

had trouble adjusting my eyes as I

shifted my gaze from the audience down

to the outline that my speech was

written on you don't want last-minute

surprises like that generally speaking

you're not going to want to use audio or

visual aids in a graduation speech but

if you decide they're an important part

of your presentation make sure you know

that everything is working and that all

your information is in order

keep in mind the more technical elements

you have to control in a presentation

the more likely something is going to go

wrong one of the things you'll have to

decide is whether you want to read your

speech word-for-word from a script so to

speak or ad-lib from an outline this is

definitely a personal choice but in

either case use large-type

and leave plenty of white space on your

script or index cards whitespace helps

keep you from losing your place and

definitely number your pages or cards

one final thought on graduation speeches

despite its challenges it's not

impossible to write and deliver a

memorable relevant interesting and even

entertaining graduation speech and if

you're looking for a one-stop website

where you can find everything you need

click on the first link below the videos

it will take you to Tom antion's

homepage Tom is one of the most

accomplished and highest-paid

professional speakers in the world his

website is a treasure trove for anyone

who wants to become a better public

speaker and I highly recommend you sign

up for Tom's free weekly public speaking

tips newsletter you'll see a sign-up

screen that looks like this when you go

to his homepage you should also browse

his speaker shop by clicking on the

speakers tools link on the lower left

side of his homepage the speaker shop

contains dozens of inexpensive but

information-packed books e-books audio

and video programs Tom CD course on how

to use humor in your speeches is the

best I've ever heard again to go to Tom

antion's homepage just click on the

first link below this video screen

you