Commencement speech

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Kent Beck giving a commencement speech
The University of New Hampshire commencement, at which George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke.

A commencement speech or commencement address is a speech given to graduating students, generally at a university, generally in the US, although the term is also used for secondary education institutions. The "commencement" is a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are conferred upon graduating students. A commencement speech is typically given by a notable figure in the community, during the commencement exercise. The person giving such a speech is known as a commencement speaker. Very commonly, colleges or universities will invite politicians, important citizens, or other noted speakers to come and address the graduating class.

A commencement speech is less bound by the structure found in other forms of public address, like eulogies or wedding speeches. The speaker accordingly enjoys a unique freedom to express him or herself. Executive speechwriter Anthony Trendl writes

A commencement speech, simply, is an opportunity to share your experience, values and advice. The precise form is up to you. This affords the speaker a platform to say amazing, unlimited things.[1]

Some notable speeches[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Trendl, Anthony. "What Makes a Commencement Speech?". 
  2. ^ a b c "Top 10 Commencement Speeches". Time magazine. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The 10 Best Graduation Speeches of All Time: Winston Churchill, Former UK PM". CNBC. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  4. ^ "'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says". Stanford Report. June 14, 2005. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement (YouTube). Harvard Magazine. Transcript
  6. ^ "Neil Gaiman: Keynote Address 2012". University of the Arts. May 17, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ [1]

External links[edit]