Phoenix Public Speaking coaching and workshops

What Makes a Great Commencement Speech

Many of you likely have heard a commencement speech recently as high schools and colleges are releasing the class of 2018 to the world. Was the commencement speech you heard good? Was it memorable?

If you’d liked the commencement speech you heard and remember any of it, it’s probably because of the speaker’s ability to tell a great story and their ability to add healthy doses of appropriate humor. A good speaker knows how to tell a story and a joke that resonates with you personally and emotionally.

The following are three commencement speeches I recommend to my coaching clients and classes because they are examples of good storytelling and good humor. In each example, note how the speaker finds a common emotional bond with their audience.

> Rick Rigsby: The Wisdom of a Third Grade Dropout

> Steve Jobs: Don’t Waste Your Life Living Someone Else’s Dream

> Admiral Willian H. McRaven (Navy Seal): If You Want to Change the World …

The success they each achieved in life is interesting to our minds, but the struggles they go through to get there are what touches our hearts.

What’s your favorite commencement speech and what did you like about it? Feel free to drop a link to your favorite speech in the comments section below.

Note: The photo accompanying this article is from my daughter Kaitlyn’s high school graduation a few weeks ago. Yep, that’s Kaitlyn at the podium. But she isn’t about to deliver a commencement address. No, she’s about to do something even more terrifying. What could be more terrifying than public speaking? She’s about to sing the National Anthem in front of 4,000 people in a stadium that has been the site of national championships and a Super Bowl. No pressure! Well, she sang great and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

 

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