Graduation Commencement Speeches Worth Spreading

June happens to be a fabulous month and for me, the prelude to an amazing summer I plan with my family and friends.  June is a time to go to as many garden centers and home garden shows as I can, listen to a number of commencement speeches that make their rounds via Twitter, email and Facebook, and of course my birthday which is a month long celebration.   

Most if not all, have had the chance to listen to their own commencement speech from the school they graduated from and if you are a parent, the chance to attend and participate in your own children’s graduation day is something that is captured forever in all our memories.  I must admit, most commencement speeches are made up of empty clichés but there are some that speak to the heart and make you want to “move it” forward.    

Whenever I listen to a really good commencement speech or even two-five minute speeches, I ask myself, four questions: 

1. What is one idea, comment or suggestion that I’m currently doing and or behaving?

2. What is one idea, comment or suggestion that I can immediately add to what I’m doing and or behaving?

3. What is one idea, comment or suggestion that makes me curious to want to learn more, and explore it further?  In what ways can I integrate these ideas into what I’m doing? 

4. What creative ways can I use Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools to share and extend my insights and learning?  How do I “move it” forward.

Here are a couple of speeches that may peak your interest.  No they are not all commencement speeches but they do make you want to pay attention none the less.  Ask yourself, if you had the chance to write a commencement speech or to answer an interview question, would it be full of empty clichés or something that spoke from you heart, the foundation of your own credibility and experience?   

1. America is not the greatest country in the world

In the pilot of the new HBO series, the Newsroom, Will McAvoy played by Jeff Daniels the news anchor for a cable show is asked by a college student “What makes America Great?”    Here is the script to follow along.  Later in the show Jeff Daniels character shares that the majority of people tweeted the negative part of his speech and not the positive side or even answered the question on how America could return to greatness.  The question is how would you move it forward; full of empty of clichés, just a link, or would you share an idea to move the conversation forward where other people could add their insights and create their own call to action.


2. Stephen Colbert 2011 Commencement Speech at Northwestern University.    Read the script here.


3. Neil Gaiman – Inspirational Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts 2012 – Make Good Art.

Neil Gaiman is an author and cartoonist of The Sandman comics in the 90’s.  


4. Conan O’Brien Delivers Dartmouth’s Commencement Address

I’m not a Conan O’Brien fan but when he is serious he has something to say and he says it well.  His script is here.  It is around 16 minutes into his speech that he gets serious and speaks from the heart.  


His claim to fame or even more fame is his classy goodbye from NBC’s Tonight Show. You can read the script for his last night on NBC hereHere is Conan O’Brien’s commencement speech at Harvard University in 2000 part 1 and part 2. 

There are so many more commencement speeches go to YouTube or Vimeo and search “best commencement speeches 2012.”

Every time you tweet, add a comment to your Facebook page, write a blog and use your LinkedIn account to share something you add information about you.  It takes very little time to stand out in a way that helps build your own foundation from a place from which you build, develop and grow from.  So come on people, let’s “MOVE IT” ……. forward. 

It’s easy to forward the link, it’s a lot more thought provoking if you share an idea, or comment to let people know how you are using suggestions made from what you have heard. 

Have a wonderful and safe summer. 

What is your favorite commencement speech and why?