This early, I’m getting inquiries from different schools if I can be there as a commencement speaker—high school and college. The latest addition was an invitation from Diwa Publishing, which is yet to be finalized because I also have other engagements on the same dates.
I musst admit that there’s a level of pride and joy to be invited or at least be considered to address a crowd of hopefuls who would always have this mixed emotions when they finally march towards and stand on stage. The most basic feeling is relief, which tells them that finally school requirements are finished.
But I’d like to reach my fellow graduation speakers, most of them have already proven something in their life—an accomplished businessman, a recognized icon of a particular industry, or a known politician. Simply, these are role models for the graduates.
Observing these people as they speak and taking from my own experience of providing graduation speeches for high school and college students, I came up with a set of reminders that a gradation or commencement speaker shouldn’t ever forget. These are tips should they’ll be looking for “graduation speaking tips.”
- You’ve been there down the crowd. Yes, of course. You were once seated down there, except for some achievers who didn’t make it to finish their education. But you were once there or at least you have an idea on how it feels being in a graduation attire. Most audience my already be thinking about the cakes or ice cream after their picture-taking. So, you speech has to be so effective that you can shift the focus right back to you. You can start by sharing your own feeling way back then, a couple of your crazy, embarrassing stories that most graduates can relate with.
- Don’t be too stiff, too hard, too dependent on your script. The problem with reading a speech is that it seems to be prepared by someone else. Sincerity plays an important role in delivering graduation speeches but hey, you don’t want the graduates to feel that they’re just part of your rehearsal. Once you’re up there, it’s already the performance part so you don’t just read, rather, you communicate your message. Communication is more than reading a piece of prepared speech. Take control of your audience.
- Stress, pauses, speed, and clarity. As much as possible be lively. Don’t just stand behind your podium and finish the speech with one leg standing. Avoid monotone and single-styled presentation. Your audience are dynamic and really hate a speaker who doesn’t know how to vary his styles from strong to soft voice, high and low tones, fast and slow delivery. It’s important that a graduation or commencement speaker knows how to combine these variations. Otherwise, the event would be boring and regardless of how great and substantial your message is, it’s simply unable to reach its destination much less serve your purpose.
Those are just some tips that I can share as of now. There are still a lot of strategies and styles that I keep with me. Should you need some assistance on preparing your graduation or commencement speeches, please let me know and I’ll be happy to help you out!
Please contact me and let’s see what we can do so you don’t waste your time and energy and save the graduates from experiencing yet another boring “special day.”