Good examples of graduation speeches include Steve Jobs' speech at Stanford University in 2005, J.K. Rowling's commencement speech at Harvard University in 2008, David Foster Wallace's commencement address at Kenyon College in 2005 and Neil Gaiman's commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2012. Graduation speeches can touch on many topics, including life advice, lessons learned and ideas to achieve success.
Steve Jobs' speech talked about following dreams and not living life for others. J.K. Rowling's speech mentioned that failure is an inevitable part of life. David Foster Wallace's speech included ideas on learning how to think and what that concept means. Neil Gaiman's speech talked about breaking rules and making mistakes. Many graduation speeches usually include some form of acknowledgement to the staff at the school.
One way to begin writing a graduation speech is to come up with a theme for the speech. Including personal stories and anecdotes helps to illustrate points. Graduation speeches can follow an autobiographical narrative and show how the speaker became successful. Although graduation speeches do not have a set duration, anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes is recommended. According to Graduation Wisdom, a good graduation speech is free of clichés, is energetic and delivers the message with conviction.