Representing your high school graduating class by giving the graduation speech is a great honor usually bestowed upon a student who has earned the respect of their classmates and teachers. That honor isn’t diminished just because you are delivering a virtual commencement speech after graduating from online high school.
Whether the graduation ceremony will be in-person or held virtually, many students struggle with how to write a graduation speech. Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Writing an impactful online graduation speech that will be remembered—even a short, two-minute graduation speech—is all about following a well-established speech-writing pattern.
Follow these four easy steps for writing and delivering an inspiring online commencement speech that your graduating class will take with them into this new chapter!
Step 1: Brainstorm Graduation Speech Ideas
A great virtual graduation speech begins with a brainstorming session. Start by asking yourself what you have gained from your high school experiences. What were your successes? What challenges did you overcome? What important lessons did you learn? What connections did you make with your classmates and teachers? What were your most memorable moments? Identify your online high school success stories to share with the audience.
It’s also a good idea to brainstorm your expectations for the future. What kind of challenges might you and your classmates encounter in the next phase of your lives? How have your online school experiences prepared you for those challenges?
Write down your thoughts and ideas as you consider the experiences you would like to share in your online graduation speech. Generating these personal ideas will help get your creative juices flowing so you can determine the best stories to share with your graduating class.
Remember, sometimes the best ideas come to us at unexpected times. In addition to setting aside time for a brainstorming session, keep a notebook handy so you can jot down your ideas when inspiration strikes.
Step 2: Choose a Theme
By now, you’ve got a bunch of cool ideas, but how do you start to shape them into an interesting—and coherent—online graduation speech? Many great graduation speech writers solve this problem by selecting a theme.
Choose a central theme and unify your ideas around it to ensure your virtual graduation speech doesn’t ramble or touch on too many topics. A cohesive theme makes your speech more meaningful and memorable, which is especially important for a virtual graduation ceremony audience.
Traditionally, themes for graduation speeches center around topics such as:
- Following your dreams
- Believing in yourself
- Serving others
- Being creative
- How failure is important for success
- The power of hard work and perseverance
Once you choose a graduation speech theme, you’ll be able to choose the stories and ideas from your brainstorming session that support your theme.
Step 3: Structure Your Speech
Now that you’ve chosen your commencement speech theme and have some story ideas, you can begin to put the speech elements together following this simple, effective structure:
Capture the Audience’s Attention at the Beginning
Just as a good book starts out with a great “hook,” a great graduation speech begins with an interesting fact, a catchy quote, an intriguing story, or even a joke that is relevant to your audience.
Illustrate Your Theme Through Storytelling
Remember, all good stories have a well-defined beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is typically an obstacle or challenge that you faced. The middle is how you overcame it, and the end is what you learned or how the journey changed you. Feel free to share multiple stories or examples as long as they relate well to your speech theme.
Tie Everything Together in the Conclusion
Tie your points together with a clear conclusion. Communicate the lessons you’ve learned from your example and how your message applies to your virtual audience.
Step 4: Deliver Your Speech
The next step in how to write a commencement speech is the easy part for some people—delivering your speech. Delivering an online graduation speech can be intimidating, even when you can’t see your audience, so allow yourself plenty of time to practice. Follow these techniques used by great public speakers:
Memorize Your Speech
This will help you focus on making your delivery more personable and human, rather than just robotically reading from a script.
Keep It Short and Simple
Your virtual graduation speech should ideally be between 10 and 15 minutes, or the length recommended by your school.
We tend to talk faster when we’re nervous, so make a conscious effort to slow down your speech.
Present with Passion
Be animated in your speech. Use inflection. Avoid a monotone voice.
Pause for Emphasis
Add dramatic flair to your online commencement speech to keep it interesting. Stop at appropriate times to give your virtual graduation ceremony audience a chance to reflect on what you are saying.
Look Directly into the Camera
All eyes will be on you, even in a virtual graduation ceremony! Look directly into the camera. This gives the impression of making eye contact and will help keep your virtual audience engaged.
Enjoy the Moment!
You’ve spent weeks going through the steps of how to make a great graduation speech to prepare an inspiring virtual graduation speech. Don’t forget to enjoy the moment! You were chosen to speak to your graduating class because you were motivated and engaged during your online high school years. Celebrate your achievements and enjoy the moment!
Graduating from Online High School
In today’s world, the path to high school graduation doesn’t have to be a straight line from the neighborhood elementary school to the local brick-and-mortar high school. Students can earn their high school diploma from public online high schools like Connections Academy. With flexible scheduling options and more personalized attention, Connections Academy prepares students for their journey after high school by building the skills—and instilling the confidence—they will need to succeed.
If you want to know how online high school works, attend a Connections Academy information session to see if online school is right for your family. It’s never too late to try a new school experience!