If you happen to be well known and an alumni from a university you once graduated from, don’t be surprised if you’ll be asked to make a commencement speech someday. Even those who aren’t well known or an internationally renowned celebrity can sometimes be asked to make commencement speeches for graduates if your name is still known in the university circles. But as with many famous commencement speeches, it might be challenging to be original when so many clichés have already been written at these graduation events. With length also a problem, what can be said today to graduates showing them more of a sense of reality than a fantasy view?
Every year, it’s always fun to look at the famous names universities bring in to recite commencement speeches. Most of them are quite inspiring, and others are sometimes questioned on how much thought was really put in beforehand. Yet, how much reality do they really place into their speeches? Are most commencement speeches made to show an unrealistic view in order so there isn’t any pessimism going out into the job market?
Showing the Truth Based on Past Experience
Most graduates want to hear the personal experiences from the speaker rather than hearing something overly generic that seemed to be written from a commencement speech mill. In the realm of being honest and truthful, telling your own stories about struggling will show the realities while also showing a light at the end of the tunnel. There might be a tendency to want to sugarcoat past experiences in order to give ore inspiration to the graduates. By giving them the brutal truth about what they might face in the immediate term, it can gear them up to be more resilient.
Overall, rising from the ashes stories are very popular and why many companies use those stories as a way toward more personal marketing with prospective customers. Graduates will feel the same way when they see how immediate struggles to find one’s way is usually a part of life that always has a silver lining later.
How Funny Should That Honesty Be?
Just about everybody appreciates a commencement speech that’s funny. However, you should only make it funny if you’re able to recite it out loud in a funny way. Not everyone is a comedian, though you’re going to find some speakers giving commencement speeches that are overly forced in their comedy or with lame jokes. If you want to be very honest and incorporate some humor, it has to integrate organically from life experience. No matter how dark that humor might be, getting people to laugh at a commencement speech is the best thing you can do before ending on an inspiring note.
Also, keep in mind that being honest doesn’t mean spouting personal politics. While it may be hard to resist if you’re notable with a strong political stance, you have to remember you’re inspiring graduates here and not at a political convention.
Be Sure Your Information is Correct
When detailing the stories of your own life, recounting stories of others, or making references to the university, be sure all the information is accurate. You don’t want to mispronounce the name of the university or be called out later for making a mistake on someone you were talking about. Also, you might be tempted to trump up your own story to create more comedy or drama. Someone might call you out on this later if they happen to know you well or if you completely made up something that many know is false. If it gets into the media that you made errors, it could undermine your commencement speech being one people remember for years.
How Long Should Your Speech Be?
Speaking honestly about the realities graduates face doesn’t have to require going on for two hours. Various famous names have made commencement speeches over the years that go on much longer than necessary. Usually twenty minutes is the best length, and the shorter the better. Telling one story about your own life is all that’s necessary to get a point across. Then allowing at least five minutes to relate to the present and how it connects with the graduates can mean a speech that’s envied and copied down the line.
Most of all, learning how to give your speech as if it’s spontaneous makes for the most memorable commencement speeches. No matter how honest you are, having it come straight from the heart rather than sounding like it’s being read will prove to graduates you’re just using words on paper as a guide rather than being literal.