Writing a valedictorian speech can be challenging. Your audience has high expectations for you because you’re the highest-ranking student in the batch.
Don’t stress out. I’ve got nine tips for writing the best high school valedictorian speech that will make sure you leave an impact.
How to Write a Valedictorian Speech
Do you want to create a memorable speech? Follow these ten tips to write the perfect graduation speech.
Tip1: Talk About What You’ve Learned in Your Speech
The perfect valedictorian speech is one where you share the essential lessons from high school. These are not lessons learned in the four corners of the classrooms but life learnings you can apply everywhere.
You can talk about the importance of loyalty to your friends, sportsmanship after losing a game, or teamwork from your school play.
Tip 2: Check for Themes
Almost every school graduation event has a theme. People at school will expect you to follow this idea while incorporating your own memories, advice, and stories.
If there is none, you can create a personal theme that shows the essence of your entire high school experience. Think about school events that fit in with the theme, then start writing your valedictory speech.
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Some sample themes include teachers and students who inspire, overcoming failure, connecting amidst adversity, and more.
Tip 3: Use an Outline
Follow this outline when creating a farewell address for your fellow high school students.
- Greet everyone congratulations.
- Introduce yourself.
- Give an overview of the last four years, from freshman to senior year. Mention significant moments like prom, homecoming, debate competitions, and more.
- What are you grateful for? Recall fun moments from high school you appreciate. Mention teachers you want to thank and the parts of the academic institutions that helped you achieve.
- Tie everything together.
- End with a memorable line.
Tip 4: Make Your Valedictorian Speech About Everybody But You
As valedictorian, you represent the entire school graduating class. So it only makes sense that you talk about everybody. Don’t turn it into a biography of your school accomplishments.
In Gilmore Girls, Rory wrote a valedictory speech entirely about herself. It’s the best example of what you should not do in real life. Not everyone cares about the books you read or your family members. It’s one of my fav shows, and I adore that character, but I shook my head at that scene.
Gather information about what the four years have been like for your classmates. Are there any school memories worth mentioning? Ask them what they want you to include in the speech. That will ensure your valedictorian speech becomes remarkable.
Tip 5: Your Opening Line
The hardest part about writing any speech is starting the introduction. Your opening line should instantly grab everyone’s attention, whether it’s your schoolmates, teachers, or parents.
Do not start your address with “Can you hear me?” or “Is this microphone working?” You also don’t want to share your nervousness while on stage.
Tip 6: Practice Like It’s Real
There are two ways to practice your speech. First, you can read your manuscript and rehearse your non-verbal cues. Make sure you maintain eye contact with the audience and use your hands for gestures.
You can also read it in front of trusted people so they can give you suggestions. Speaking in front of people will build your confidence. But if there’s no one around to help you, record yourself giving the speech to analyze areas of improvement.
Tip 7: See Your High School Years With a Sense of Humor
Another tip is to open your address with an attention-grabbing joke. This will keep your audience from being bored during the program.
One of the best jokes as a valedictorian is a self-deprecating one. It will make you more relatable to your batchmates. You can also share funny memories with classmates, teachers, and school administrators.
Tip 8: Learn the Art of Stage Presence
An outstanding stage presence is critical in giving an excellent speech. One way to achieve this is by embracing the power of the pause. It allows you to gather your thoughts and follow the outline you prepared for the speech.
Dressing to impress, respecting the audience’s time, and adjusting the tone of your voice also help. These small practices will allow you to get your audience’s reaction and remembrance.
Tip 9: Inspire Your Fellow Students
One of the critical features of a valedictorian speech is that it should be inspiring. Graduation is not only about celebrating the fact that you finished high school.
You also want your fellow students to look back at the best high school memories and then look forward to the future. Valedictory speeches should make everyone excited about college and their careers.
With the central theme in mind, try giving your fellow graduates an inspiring piece of advice. It can be about hard work, patience, overcoming self-doubt, and more. You can also use motivating quotes that will make a memorable valedictorian speech.
Tip 10: Hire a Speech Writer
Consider hiring a captivating valedictorian speech writer if you are having trouble putting your thoughts into words. They will help you deliver concise, clear messages that resonate with the crowd.
Professional speech writers also have excellent editing skills. They can spot spelling and grammar mistakes to produce the perfect speech.
Cheat Sheet of Inspirational Quotes
- “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey
- “I’ve learned it’s important not to limit yourself. You can do whatever you really love to do, no matter what it is.” – Ryan Gosling
- “There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.” – Jennifer Aniston
- “You must have some vision in your life. Even if you don’t know the plan, you have to have a direction in which you choose to go.” – Oprah
- “Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible … Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don’t know about. Limit your ‘always’ and your ‘nevers.’ Continue to share your heart with people even if it’s been broken.” – Amy Poehler
- “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
- “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali
- “Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” – Nora Ephron
- “You and you alone are the only person who can live the life that writes the story that you were meant to tell.” – Kerry Washington
Cheat Sheet of Funny Graduation Quotes
- “The unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life, is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective.” – Jon Stewart
- “Big pay and little responsibility are circumstances seldom found together.” – Napoleon Hill
- “At graduation, you get to wear a cap and gown, but it’s a good idea to also wear something underneath it.” – Greg Tamblyn
- “Remember, when it comes to applying for jobs, books ARE judged by their cover!” – Patricia Akins
- “Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open.” – Thomas Dewar
Valedictorian Speech Example
Today, December 10, 2022, we have become [name of school] graduates. We recall endless lectures, meeting best friends during lunchtime, and looking forward to prom and homecoming. We also remember occasional sports events, field trips, and examinations. Now, we are future pharmacists, engineers, teachers, doctors, business owners, and more. Some of us plan to start new families, while others might want to take the independent route.
This year’s graduation theme is relevant to our experiences. University of the Future: Reimaginations, Reconfigurations, and Realizations. It’s time for us to reimagine a life of connecting beyond the four walls of the classrooms. The pandemic taught us the hard way to reconfigure learning and connect despite the spatial distance. Our four years in school also made us realize that our families, friends, teachers, and school administrators are our rock.
We are thankful for our teachers who encourage group collaborations and have become a source of motivation despite the challenges. We are grateful for the employees behind Tech Support, Registration, Student Advising, and other offices because they ensure that a collective space for sharing and learning is operating smoothly and democratically. Most of all, we are thankful for fellow students who humanize our learning experience and offer support beyond school-related matters.
When you leave the hall today, celebrate everything you have accomplished. Celebrate every hardship you encountered from freshman to senior year. Thank yourself for staying strong and persevering despite everything. Look forward to the future while keeping your connections with everyone in this room. Congratulations, Class of 2022!
Practice, Practice, Practice
The only way to give the best high school valedictorian speech is to practice it regularly. Read it in front of a mirror, make revisions when necessary, then recite it in front of a few people. Check for their reactions and feedback.
Once you have perfected your speech, you’ll be prepared to take on the stage like an expert public speaker.