How to Write a Senior Speech
A senior speech usually occurs at graduation. The valedictorian, the member of the graduating class with the highest grade point average (GPA), will generally give a speech at the graduating ceremony, along with the salutatorian and some volunteers. The salutatorian has the second-highest GPA in the graduating class. Senior speeches may also be a part of senior recognition or other end-of-year ceremonies for organizations or extracurricular activities like band and honor societies. The senior speech epitomizes the moment of graduating from high school and starting adult life, and usually has an inspirational and/or nostalgic tone.
Pick a theme and outline your main points. You want the speech to be easy to understand for the audience. Outlining the key ideas, such as perseverance or celebration, in advance will make the writing process much easier.
Check with the school administration about speech length and any other requirements. You might be assigned a theme to work with, for example. Ask if you are allowed to use notes during the speech. Try picking a theme and then finding a famous quote, historical situation or anecdote that best represents or summarizes the idea. This can be your hook to get the audience engaged and should go at the beginning of the speech.
Make a draft of the speech. Spend most of your time on making the point, not focusing on grammar or diverting into topic areas outside of the theme. Speech writing is different than writing a regular essay. You want the speech to sound natural. For example, instead of writing, "Our last year of school has finally been reached," you might just want to say, "So, we finally made it." The most important part is that your individual voice and ideas shine through. This is your moment.
Edit your speech. Eliminate all unnecessary words. You want your point to be easily made for the audience. We listen differently than we read, so take out all the interference. Only diverge from your main idea if it makes a point of some sort.
Write out your speech in legible, short segments on note cards. As you give your speech, glance down at your note cards to make sure you are saying everything you wanted to without carrying a noticeable piece of paper.
Practice giving your speech with your note cards. Time the speech and make sure it conforms to the guidelines. Practice holding the note cards in front of or down at your side and glancing at them while maintaining eye contact with the audience. Your family or friends can be your practice audience. Feel free to modify your speech as you go and change any parts that are giving you trouble.
Practice giving the speech in the same location where you will be giving it, if possible. This can help you overcome any nerves you might have. You can also get used to the feel of being on stage.
Josalin Mitchell began her writing career in 2009. She has written web content as well as grants, training manuals, reports and brochures for nonprofit agencies. Mitchell has a Bachelor of Arts in English and women's studies and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching in English education.