Graduating from high school is quite an accomplishment. Graduating as a homeschooler is an accomplishment beyond the classroom. Bring your homeschooling experience to life in a well-written commencement address that chronicles your journey and highlights your hopes for the future.
Select a Theme
Every speech needs a theme. The best way to write a coherent speech that flows well to the audience is to write the speech with a theme in mind.
Explore famous speeches for inspiration like the commencement speech given by Steven Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005. Or have one-person brainstorming session with yourself to pick a theme for your piece.
Brainstorming is nothing more than taking a pen and paper and writing down every thought that comes to mind on a certain subject. What comes to mind when you think about graduation? Write down everything you can think of – from things you’ve done or want to do to places you’ve been and places you want to go. Or what about things that have inspired you during your education and what inspires you to go on?
Two theme examples could be “Learning From the Past and Looking to the Future" or “Keeping the Circle Going – Those Who Helped Me and Who I Plan to Help."
Once you’ve selected your theme, it’s time to start on an outline for your speech.
Write an Outline
Here’s an old adage about how to write an outline: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them." That will give your speech a beginning, middle and end.
A good opening for your address is to start at the beginning. Where did your homeschooling experience start? What got you into homeschooling? Answering these questions can be used as a simple beginning (or introduction) to your speech.
The middle of your speech should be the heart of your theme or story. For example, if you picked the theme of “Learning From the Past and Looking to the Future," you could let the middle of the speech chronicle what you did as a homeschooler. Include interesting information on what you did, where you went, friends or anyone who helped you along your way.
Create an ending for your speech by summarizing all the points you brought up in the beginning and middle of the speech. Then include a few words about where you’re going. What are you going to do with the homeschooling degree you just received?
Make it personal and wrap it up with the traditional graduation ending – thank you, good bye and good luck to friends, family and teachers.
Know Your Audience
Speaking of making it personal, it’s also important to know your audience. Who will be listening to the speech? Friends, family, teachers or other graduates present need to be taken into consideration. Understand that, if anyone in your audience contributed to your homeschool education, they will probably be expecting to hear a thank you.
Or if family or friends are present, find a way to address them in your speech. Include thanks for those who helped you and inspiration for younger siblings or fellow graduates for the future.
Include a thank you to your mentors and supporters as well as a good bye to friends and teachers, then wish good luck to all.
Writing and Editing
Now that you have a detailed outline, it will be easier to fill in the blanks and create the full speech for delivery. Take each section and embellish your outline by including facts and stories on each point within your theme.
Try to include a special feature in your speech to make it more interesting and get the attention of your audience. Tell a funny story from your experiences, tell a joke that’s relevant to your experience or hopes for the future, or include a quote or poem in your speech.
After you’ve filled in the blanks, edit your work by checking sentence structure and double-checking all of the facts you have in the speech for accuracy.
Timing and Delivery
If possible, ask if there is a goal or limit to the time of your graduation speech. Most of these typically run 5-10 minutes long. Anything longer than that may sound like endless droning to the audience.
Get the timing limits then practice in front of a mirror or with a friend until you feel comfortable with the material and the delivery of your speech. And don’t forget to make eye contact with the audience. There's no need to be nervous if you're prepared to give your speech.
In the end, you’ll come to realize that the speech is not just for the audience, it’s for you, too. After preparing and delivering your speech, you’ll always remember where you’ve come from and you’ll have stated a goal for where you are going, too.
• Graduation Cap and Diploma, Image by sxc.hu/jamison, https://www.sxc.hu/photo/66428
• Graduated, Image by sxc.hu/omarfranco, https://www.sxc.hu/photo/660438
• Graduates, Family and Friends, Image by sxc.hu/alexfurr, https://www.sxc.hu/photo/174442
Homeschool students and educators can use these resources for learning how to put together a graduation ceremony and commencement speech:
• 'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says; Stanford University News, June 14, 2005