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Home » Executive Training, Leadership and Communication Tips

Commencement Speech Tips


Commencement speeches should be quick and snappy.  That’s it – in a nutshell.  Our daughter, Lindsey, recently graduated from dental school, and as I sat with my buttons popping with pride – the coach in me also analyzed the speakers.  I do want to congratulate the dental school for completing all speeches and graduating 70 students (with great individual attention and presentation of doctoral hoods) in 1.5 hours.  That was amazing!  The only really good speaker was the class president.  She spoke for only a few minutes and presented a top-11 list of her dental school memories.  The faculty speakers, however, were a collective “2” on a ten-point scale.  Their speeches were too long;  they were not conversational;  and they spoke with no passion.  Ouch!  So I have come up with my top-three list for all commencement speakers:

1.  Limit your speech to 5 minutes or less

2.  Speak with passion – put some facial expression, voice inflection, and gestures into everything you say

3.  Carry on a conversation – imagine that the students are hanging out in your living room and you are having a chat

Congratulations to all 2009 graduates!  May your speakers be quick and snappy – and the receptions spectacular!

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