Speeches by famous actors, comedians, politicians or entrepreneurs are the highlights of the graduation ceremonies at many schools, colleges and universities. These speeches are full of wise words and witty humor. Therefore, they provide plenty of inspiration for writing your own graduation speech. Here are the seven best examples of recent years.
- Barack Obama
Barack Obama has a tendency to give quite long speeches. A bit too long for some people. However, his commencement address at Howard University in 2016 was equally inspiring, entertaining and sometimes even funny. Well done, Mr. President!
- Conan O’Brien
In 2011, comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien ignites a firework of gags and humorous remarks in his speech at his Dartmouth University speech. The fact that he still manages to convey a serious message makes his speech particularly worth seeing.
- J.K. Rowling
In her 2011 commencement speech at Harvard, Rowling uses remarkable candor and fine wit to address the serious topics of failure, poverty and the importance of imagination.
- Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 is considered part of the legacy of the great entrepreneur, who died in 2011. In his speech, a year after his first cancer diagnosis, he tells the students about three crucial insights of his life.
- Denzel Washington
In his commencement speech at University of Pennsylvania in 2011, the Oscar winner Washington shares with the audience the early years of his acting career, his recipe for success, and a personal encounter he had with Angelina Jolie in a locker room.
- Natalie Portman
During the preparation for her commencement speech at Harvard in 2015, the Oscar-winning actress provided a rare backstage view. By email, she wrote to her alma mater, “This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever been asked to do. But I’ll need some funny ghostwriters. Ideas?” After the mail had been leaked, Portman had to write her speech herself – and she did with remarkable success.
- Neil Gaiman
His advice to graduates can be summarized in one sentence: Make good art. Neil Gaiman’s words to the graduates of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2012 are considered a prime example of a speech that not only inspires, but also entertains the audience.