How to Write a Valedictory Speech

As valedictorian, your speech needs to be representative of your class as a whole. As such, it should reflect on your place in history, accomplishments, memories and, of course, expectations for the future. But be yourself, too. The speech should sound like you, not like a book.  
  • Remember how a valedictory speech differs from an informative or debating speech: it's less formal but more intimate in style.
  • Plan to speak for about 15 minutes unless instructed otherwise. Excited graduates, toddlers and babies in the audience may not be able to sit still for a longer speech, especially with other speakers on the agenda.
  • Jot down general ideas to cover. For example, "This year was marked by great success and great loss (won awards/beloved principal retired)" or "Drake High entered the 21st century this year when it went online." 
  • List all points, largest to smallest. For example, the earthquake, Professor Smith's Nobel prize, swim team to Olympics, most grad school entrants ever, personal triumphs, funny story about Dean Dover and the grapefruit.
  • Whittle down your list to between three and five main points, followed by each topic's subpoints. If you're discussing the earthquake, include points like the following: computer lab destroyed; rebuilt with corporate support; now better than ever.
  • Flesh out points with supporting materials and transitions. "We didn't miss the wrath of last spring's quake, but our close ties with Acme Tech turned bad to good. Our new Acme lab is cutting edge, which will benefit future generations."
  • Sharpen your notes down to a succinct outline.


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