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BEST GRADUATION SPEECHES

This site have some of the best commencement and graduation speeches ever spoken.
A speech can’t change your life, but it can shift your perception a little bit (or maybe more). And this shift can have profound consequences on your future.
There are a lot of little and big pieces of wisdom in these pages. We hope that you will be inspireb by them, as we have been when we decided to save them for the future.


How to Write a Graduation Speech

Everything I learned about what it takes to produce a memorable speech in one place! While lighthearted, this article contains some of the best well-researched advice there is on content, structure, possible themes, and delivery tips to make your commencement speech a memorable one.


Graduation Quotes

It doesn’t matter that your dream came true if you spent your whole life sleeping.

JERRY ZUCKER

In need of writing a witty message on the graduation card? Search no more! This unique collection of inspirational graduation quotes is ready for you.


Remarkable Graduation Speech by Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Ron Suskind | Lewis & Clark College

Once in a while, a graduation speech comes along to inspire not just the young graduates but all those young at heart. Journalist and author Ron Suskind’s commencement speech this May at Lewis & Clark College has done just that, conveying a powerful message through three moving stories. Top that with some light jokes and a truly outstanding delivery (no notes, moves around the podium, funny gestures) and you know you stumbled over one unforgettable graduation speech. No wonder the graduates gave him a standing ovation!


10th Anniversary – Graduation Speech by Kudzu Comic Strip Author

Timeless advice in this inspirational and thoughtful commencement address at Durham Academy. Doug Marlettette’s graduation quotes and insights for the graduates have the same relevance today as they had ten years ago. Read the full commencement speech.


Best Graduation Quotes

Nuggets of advice and inspiration for young graduates and all those young at heart. What did we learn this year? Read on for great wisdom from last season’s best commencement addresses.


Graduation Speeches Sketchnotes

I am a big fan of sketchnotes and I am just getting started. I hope that soon I will be adding more. This of course assumes I’ll have the time to make them. One day, someone must make it possible to transform our infinite ability to worry into an infinite time resource. Until then, I ‘steal’ time from where I can. Maybe skipping the Saturday night movie, like I do today?!


The Most Popular Commencement Address

Soon after adding this transcript to the site it quickly went to the top and it is now the most popular speech on this site. Can you guess? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not Steve Job (he comes in a close second). You might find it a surprise but it turns out, the man has good advice. Give it a try, watch or read the 6 rules of success.


The Funniest Graduation Speeches

Ready for some good laughs? Search no more. In the past ten years, thousands of commencement speeches have been given. Of these, however, only a few were deemed hilarious. We have the list of speeches right here. The laughs are guaranteed. Enjoy our mini-collection of the funniest graduation speeches and funny graduation quotes.


Looking for Ideas?

This list is a good place to pick and choose the most fitting and inspirational themes. Do not forget to add personal stories or anecdotes around them to make the message stick and be more powerful. Lastly, don’t forget to apply them in real life. My favorite one is:

RULE # 5
Don’t wait to be invited. Create opportunities and get in the game.


Giving a Graduation Speech?

Congratulations! While you prepare your speech, search for inspiration in our collection of the best commencement speeches. And don’t be scared; there is a great opportunity awaiting you. 2013’s top commencement speaker George Saunders and 2012’s top two commencement speakers, Neil Gaiman and David McCullough Jr., all landed book deals following their outstanding commencement addresses. Good luck!


Top Ten

View the list of top ten commencement speeches as featured in the USA TODAY’s article by Mary Beth Marklein. Share them with your family, friends, and please send me your favorites.


Best Speeches: Arts

There is little surprise that writers do give some of the finest commencement speeches ever. What is surprising is that despite their talents, the number of writers asked to speak at commencement exercises seems so much smaller than say that of politicians. I am very happy with this small but growing collection of outstanding advice by authors and writers.


Advice and Lessons Learned


Lost Commencement Speeches

One such speech, among countless others worth preserving, is the commencement speech by a favorite author of mine, Joan Didion, at the University of California in 1975. Luckily, one of the simply most breathtaking pieces of advice from her speech was made available in an NYT article.

I’m not telling you to make the world better,
because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package.


I’m just telling you to live in it.
Not just to endure it,
not just to suffer it,
not just to pass through it,
but to live in it.

To look at it.
To try to get the picture.
To live recklessly.
To take chances.
To make your own work and take pride in it.
To seize the moment.

And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but
none I think do there embrace.
Nor do they sing there,
or write,
or argue,
or see the tidal bore on the Amazon,
or touch their children.

And that’s what there is to do and
get it while you can and
good luck at it.
Read more Commencement Speeches by Authors


From the Archive

The commencement speeches archive has now reached almost 150 speeches. Back when I started this site in 2006 I used to know every speech in depth. As the years went by and more platitude-free and advice-bounty commencement addresses surfaced it’s becoming harder to remember all these speeches I curate here and easy to forget some of the most wonderful nuggets of wisdom they have. In this section, I will highlight a past commencement speech that I found smart and funny and some of its most memorable quotes. As always, each speech is worth reading in its entirety so if you have five minutes click on the link and read the entire transcript from actor Alan Alda given back in, yes, 1980! You will not believe how much of this advice holds true even today. That is why these speeches deserve to be remembered, to be preserved, and to be shared.

As I get older, the only thing that speeds up is time

Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in.

The soup of civilized life is a nourishing stew but it doesn’t keep bubbling on its own. Put something back in the pot as you leave for the people in line behind you.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.

Recently Added Speeches

John Green, Best-selling Author
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Steven Spielberg, Movie Director
Sheryl Sandberg, Businesswoman, and Author
Russell Wilson, NFL Quarterback
Jason Kilar, Founding CEO of Hulu
David Carr, NYT Columnist and Author
Paul Hamer, Author and English Professor
Sarah Heidt, Professor of English

Maira Kalman, Artist and Illustrator
Sheryl Sandberg, Technology Executive and Author
Joyce DiDonata, Mezzo-soprano
Alexis Ohanian, Reddit Co-founder

Mindy Kaling, Comedian and Author

There’s few things that get you over your own crap more than working hard. –

ADAM SAVAGE