Have you noticed that time passes by much faster during the spring? It is almost April, another couple of months and some students will celebrate the Big Graduation Day. If you are in the top of your class you might want to begin drafting the valedictorian* speech.
We know how difficult it can be to write a graduation speech that you’ll need to present in front of the crowd. Your classmates, parents and teachers probably expect nothing but an extraordinary text. Hopefully the following seven principles of writing a valedictory will give you something to work with and make the preparation a little less of a misery.
1. Research and interview
If you want your speech to touch hearts of the audience it should reflect your schoolmates views and interests. Perhaps the essential goal of the graduation talk is to make every student in your class feel that he or she can relate to the speech.
Ask the classmates about their experience in school. See what stories they remember the most. Find out what does it mean to them to graduate. The more opinions and ideas you can gather the richer choice of the points to mention you’ll have.
2. Keep it concise
Try to make your speech fit into ten minutes interval. The average speed of talking is about 150-160 words a minute. It’s also the range that is the easiest on the ear. Plan your farewell talk accordingly, it should be about 1500 – 1600 words long.
3. Make a powerful introduction
Start strong. Awake the public with an original thought and give them a good reason to listen to you. Hook your audience with something funny, shocking or self-revealing. Use a rare quote or short anecdote that will set the tone for your speech.
In conclusion of your talk you may want to revisit the thought that you started with. Such approach helps to make the speech complete and polished.
4. Acknowledge those who helped
Remember the people who supported you through the school years. Thank your teachers, mentors, family members and friends for the wisdom and opportunities they gave you. Bear in mind that you are speaking on behalf of all students. It might be a good idea to quote some classmates you have interviewed. Try to express the gratitude from a broad range of people and your valedictory will sound more meaningful and global.
5. Bring up fun and touching stories
Remember outstanding events, interesting classroom activities or maybe parties you had. Think of some unique happenings when you and your classmates overcame a challenge; talk about what you’ve learned from the experience. Speak of your classmates remarkable personal successes and academic achievements. Whichever occasion you choose to mention, try to retain your story light and uplifting.
6. Be yourself
Keep your talk warm, enthusiastic and friendly. At the same time, it is very important to stay honest. Your speech will sound artificial and dull if you try to overcomplicate it with pseudo intellectual words and patronising statements.
“A half-empty glass of the real you is better than an overflowing river of fake.”
7. Stay away from cliches
Your aim is to inspire, motivate and recognize your schoolmates. Trivial statements about bright future ahead can barely do that. Cliches will only make your speech predictable and hollow. Instead, when talking about future plans better focus on individual hopes, dreams and goals.
Whatever you decide to talk about we advise you to enjoy the opportunity and try to have fun. After all, you are chosen to be the valedictorian. If that’s not fantastic enough, what is?:)
*Valedictory – a farewell oration (especially one delivered during graduation exercises by an outstanding member of a graduating class).
The term valedictory is used USA, Canada and the Philippinnes. It is an anglicized derivation of the Latin phrase vale dicere which means ‘to say farewell’. The equivalent of valedictory in New Zealand, Austria and Scotland is dux speech.