Inspirational Graduation Speech Ideas and Themes

The right graduation speech theme can make you a local or viral video celebrity. Choose a theme that matches your personality and what you want others to take away from your high school experience. Find inspirational ideas that will captivate your audience and help you to get started creating a memorable graduation speech.

Inspirational High School Graduation Speech Themes

There are many themes that can be used for high school graduation speeches. Inspirational speech ideas can be simple, profound, or even humorous. Remember, the speech will be heard by teachers and parents, so include elements they will enjoy too. The following are some speech topics that will have your audience ready to give a standing ovation.

  1. Following your dreams
  2. Changing the world
  3. The importance of being yourself
  4. Sharing your best memories
  5. Discussing popular events
  6. Looking ahead to the future
  7. Setting goals
  8. Remembering where you came from
  9. Overcoming obstacles
  10. School spirit and pride
  11. Never stop learning
  12. Stories from the classroom
  13. Advice for the real world
  14. Inspirational people
  15. Things you’ll never forget
  16. Life is about the journey, not the destination
  17. Never give up
  18. The most important things in life
  19. Things that unite the senior class
  20. Taking a leap of faith
  21. How high school has prepared you for the challenges ahead
  22. How difficult times during school have made students stronger
  23. Discovering who you are to achieve your dreams
  24. Thinking outside to box to succeed
  25. Facing the future with confidence
  26. Small things that have made a difference
  27. Preparing for the college journey
  28. Making the most of every day

Funny Commencement Speech Ideas

If you’re already known as the class clown or want to surprise the whole school, plan your speech around something hilarious. Using something funny is also a unique way to start a graduation speech.

  1. How high school is like an inspirational cat poster
  2. Everything I need to know I learned from the Kardashians
  3. 15 reasons high school is better in ROBLOX
  4. 10 things cafeteria food taught me about life
  5. Everything I need to know I learned from (specific teacher’s) classroom decorations
  6. 20 reasons I never want to be a High School principal
  7. What comes after Generation Z?
  8. 5 ways high school prepared me for the zombie apocalypse
  9. 7 life lessons I learned from viral videos
  10. 5 stupid things teens did this year and why you should be proud we didn’t copy them
  11. 8 reasons virtual reality looks more appealing than the real world
  12. Why high school prepared me to live in my parents’ basement forever
  13. Looking up from the screen to discover a whole new world
  14. High school mistakes I won’t make at college
  15. Why high school is like being trapped in a bubble
  16. Refusing to graduate: I don’t want to move on
  17. The dumbest reasons I’ll never forget this place
  18. Ridiculous ways I left my mark on school/classmates
  19. The only thing from high school I’m taking into the future is my backpack
  20. Top ten lessons I learned while sleeping in class

You can also look at other funny graduation speeches inspire you.

Modern Graduation Speech Themes

In modern times, graduation speeches have become a place to address current events and delve deeper into the teenage high school experience.

  1. Privilege of graduating
  2. Individuality shapes the world
  3. Being part of the “do something” generation
  4. Difference between teens or high school now and in your parents’ generation
  5. Impact of technology
  6. Taking teens more seriously
  7. Being a global citizen
  8. Why college isn’t the best/only option after high school graduation
  9. Being kind
  10. Importance of mental health in addition to intellectual growth
  11. 5 classes that should have been offered in high school
  12. Life is like a video game
  13. How high school is a microcosm of the political world
  14. Advice for adults from this generation
  15. Questioning people in power
  16. Challenging the status quo
  17. What the world can learn from history
  18. Examples of successful people who didn’t go to college or finish high school
  19. Why high school might be scarier than the real world today
  20. Fears about college/future

Additional Ideas for Valedictorian Speech Topics

While any of the above topics could be perfectly appropriate for commencement speech ideas for anyone, class valedictorians may be looking for a particular angle. If you are at the top of your class and have been selected to give a speech at the ceremony, one of these additional senior speech ideas could give you the inspiration you’re looking for. 

Don’t be afraid to put your own unique spin on the topic and sprinkle in colorful examples from your high school experience, too.

  • Plan ahead, but don’t be afraid to take risks
  • Being a leader by taking action and being humble
  • How a can-do attitude can help students succeed
  • Being real in a world that’s more virtual than ever
  • Using failure as a path to growth and success
  • Top lessons you learned in high school, outside the classroom
  • The seeds of education that helped you grow

Speech Writing 101

Once you have thought about all the graduation speech themes to choose from, pick one. Having a theme will give you a good basis for a speech that will captivate your audience and keep it organized. As you work on your speech, here are some powerful elements to incorporate:

  • Personal stories. These stories could be about yourself or about other members of your graduating class, or stories from famous people who have overcome obstacles. Starting or ending with a story will help engage the audience.
  • Emotion. Elements of strong emotion are important for speeches. Don’t just tell a story, but put emotion into a story so that the audience goes for a rollercoaster ride. Humorous moments will cut the tension while sad stories will keep your audience on their toes.
  • Wisdom. Giving advice or seeking the advice from those before you can be an important part of a graduation speech. See what you can do to teach something important to your graduating class and faculty.

More Tips for Preparing Your Speech

Don’t let procrastination keep you from having enough time to create a top-notch speech.

  • Organize. Write out the main points on notecards even if you don’t end up needing them. You’ll be much more organized and less nervous.
  • Rehearse. No matter how many speeches you’ve given in high school, it’s important to prepare in advance. Rehearse in front of family or a few friends, but don’t show too many people or you might ruin the surprise elements of your speech. Another option is to set up a video camera or a webcam on a computer screen and give your speech a try.
  • Revise. If any part of your speech is not working, think about other elements that could be used, such as song lyrics, poetry, or memorable graduation quotes.

Step up to the Podium

Giving a high school graduation speech is an honor that you’ll remember for years to come. Whether you’re the valedictorian or a senior who has been chosen to give a speech at graduation, it’s a big moment on graduation day. 

Use these graduation speech ideas as inspiration to come up with the perfect topic for your school and situation. With the right start, you can tie the whole speech together with a theme that’s relevant to you and the entire audience.

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