Writing speeches for graduation, class assignments, or other purposes consists of a lot more than finding a few inspirational quotes and possibly a funny story or two. The key to writing good speeches lies in using a theme. If you always refer back to this theme, the audience will respond positively and remember your words. This does not mean that inspirational quotes are not important. However, they should be integrated into your speech in a way that makes sense.
Choosing a Theme
The first task that a public speaker needs to focus on before they do any actual writing is the message they are trying to convey. My inspiration for this idea came from the speeches of John F. Kennedy. In his Inaugural Speech, he chose to focus on freedom. He addressed many different topics, but always came back to this idea of liberty.
When asked to be the guest speaker at a National Honor Society induction recently, I decided to focus on how an individual's daily decisions add up to reveal that person's true character. We can not cheat in the small things and expect these blemishes to never surface. When the real tests in life occur, our character will not be able to withstand the pressure because we have not chosen the harder path all along. Why did I choose this as my theme? My audience consisted of Juniors and Seniors at the top of their respective classes. They had to meet stringent requirements in the areas of scholarship, community service, leadership, and character in order to be accepted into the organization. I wanted to leave them with one idea that might make them think twice. Read the text of the NHS speech.
How does this relate to you? First, you must decide who will make up your audience. In a graduation speech, you are addressing your fellow classmates. However, parents, grandparents, teachers and administrators will also be present. While you will be focusing on people your age, what you say must be in line with the dignity of the ceremony itself. Remembering that, think of the ONE thought with which you want to leave your audience. Why only one idea? Mainly because if you reinforce a single point instead of focusing on a number of different ideas, your audience will have a greater tendency to remember it. A speech does not lend itself to having many themes. Stick with one really good theme, and use each point you make, your theme reinforcers, to bring that idea home.
If you would like some ideas for possible themes, look at the world around you. What are people concerned about? If you are speaking about the state of education, find one central idea like personal responsibility that you feel strongly about. Then return to that idea with each point you make. Write your individual points to reinforce your idea. To return to the graduation speech, check out these top ten themes to use when writing your speech.