Writing a Salutatory Speech

Last Updated: April 28, 2024

Writing a Salutatory Speech

Six years in elementary and four in high school. Homework after homework. Endless hours of studying for countless of exams. Exhausting group projects that take up a lot of your time and resources. Just when you think the nightmare will never end, you wake up to find yourself sitting on a chair in the school auditorium wearing a toga and tassel. And then you remember, it is your graduation day! Congratulations! You have made it this far in life and with that, you now hold your head high as you walk up to the podium and deliver your speech as the batch salutatorian.

The feeling must be something. You then think to yourself: “The effort that I’ve put in all that I did really paid off!” But let us wind the clock backwards to a week before Graduation Day. You are asked by your teacher to prepare a speech considering that you are the batch salutatorian, and you are given no choice but to agree regardless. But you do not know where to even begin.

Writing a Salutatorian Speech

Do not worry, because this is just like giving another speech in class. If you have any prior knowledge to public speaking, then you will not have to worry so much as the rules of the game apply as before. But for the sake of the first-timers reading this article, here are the steps on writing a salutatory speech.

Part 1: Knowing your Limits and Choosing a Topic

Find out what your limits are

Every speech is given a certain time limit, salutatorian speeches are no different. Keeping that in mind, it is best if you ask the ceremony organizer as to how much time you are given to deliver your said speech to avoid constant interruptions. And since you are the salutatorian, your content should not be similar to that of the valedictorian’s. Coordinate with the valedictorian to avoid confusion later on.

  • Once you begin to find out what your limitations are ahead of time, you will not need much effort in totally revising your speech after discovering your too lengthy speech or it does not address the correct topic.

Keep your audience in mind when brainstorming topics
Mind you, you are not delivering an informal speech, but you will be speaking to colleagues, families, teachers, the school board, graduates, etc. First and foremost, avoid inappropriate language and jokes. Second, if a part of your speech involves cultural references that only the millennials understand, keep it to a minimum.

Choose your topic

Although the sky is definitely the limit, choose a topic that the graduating students and colleagues can relate to. Select a topic that means so much to you and then, speak it from the heart.

  • One of the more chosen topics for these kinds of speeches include why graduation day is memorable or why you are proud to be a part of the graduating class.
  • Do not choose a topic just for the sake of choosing it, but choose that topic because you feel a genuine need to express that to the world.
  • It is never a bad idea to gather ideas from your friends and families in helping you decide on what your topic is supposed to be.

Read other great speeches

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Even through reading other speeches made by famous personalities. If you think you can get the needed kick to start with your speech, read on.

Part 2: Structuring the Speech

Thank the previous speaker for introducing you

Common courtesy is just pure common sense. Try your best to find out the name of the person introducing you beforehand so that you can include his name in the speech.

Introduce yourself

After introducing the person who introduced you, introduce yourself next. Try to add a bit of personal feelings on how you feel standing in front of the crowd, as you speak in front of them.

Tell the audience what you’ll be speaking about

After all introductions are said and done, the next step for you is to start telling the audience on what you are going to be speaking about. Hint: If you begin to enumerate the main points of your speech as you talk, it will help you stay focused on the outline to avoid getting distracted.

  • At the introductory part of your speech, you may want to say: “I want to speak to you about three things: justice, knowledge, and peace.”
  • If you cannot break down the subject and major points of your speech down to at least a sentence, try to rethink about your speech structure.

Tell a story

Who does not love a good story? Especially when it is all about school. Sharing school experiences serves as an icebreaker to your speech before it gets too serious. As you share that story to the graduates and the families, make sure that the story is not too comedic as the story will lose its purpose, but also lighthearted in a way that it will not turn out to be a drag to the audience.

Reflect on the past

Two words: Look back. Remember the journey you have taken to see how far you’ve gotten. Look back and see how much your friends have helped you over the course of ten years of academic life. Look back at all the lessons and values that you have learned in school. After that, share to the audience.

Use verbal cues to make a bridge from one topic to the next

Transitions are words that help connect two ideas smoothly. If you are trying to transition between a section on justice and into a section on integrity, you might say, “And without justice there can be no integrity.” Writing in this manner will help the crowd comprehend on how these two thoughts connect with one another. They also serve as an indicator in knowing that thought #1 is done and now thought #2 is in motion.

Part 3: Closing the Speech

Urge your fellow graduates to take action

Ask yourself what is it that you are trying to achieve at the end of this speech. Since a graduation speech’s intent is supposed to inspire and let other graduates try to follow in your footsteps, then encourage them in a way that they would actually heed your advice.

Give thanks

Say thank you. Say thank you to the friends who have helped you get by. Say thank you to your parents who have brought you into this institution and for transforming you to the person you are today. Say thank you to your second parents, the teachers who have given their blood, sweat and tears to continuously harness your potential to become a better person. Thank the audience for taking the time of their busy days to attend this prestigious ceremony. And explain on why you are thankful to them.

Don’t feel obligated to consume time

If you happen to be done with your speech ahead of time, do not force yourself to extend it by putting in filler material. Remember, that the best speeches are always kept short ad simple all the time. Make a speech too long with unnecessary pointers, and you would just drag the audience out.

Part 4: Editing the Speech

Read your speech aloud before delivering it

Do no forget to practice your speech once you are done crafting it. In doing so, this will help you practice not only your timing, but also your rhythm and intonation. Not too fast, not too slow either. Remember that there are certain words that you have to give emphasis to to give the term more impact and more meaningful to the graduates when adding pauses as well.

  • Try revising some sentences that may sound weird or clunky when read aloud.
  • Try reading in front of mirror first. If you pass the mirror test, then proceed practicing with a group of friends and family. Be open to criticism and feedback as they are there to help guide you.

Add and cut parts of the speech where necessary

If you feel that your speech is too long, feel free to remove some of those part if you feel that they are not that important. If you feel that a certain part of your speech can be improved when adding this kind of context, do so. Once finished, time your speech and make the necessary adjustments if it is still overboard.

Have an editor look over the speech

After your respective revisions, get someone you trust an editor, a parent or a teacher to help you review your content and give you certain advice on how the speech is and how it can be improved.

Practice the speech for several weeks before graduation

Practice makes perfect, after all. Like a great pianist who practices endlessly for hours on end, do the same with your graduation speech until you have become comfortable enough to recite it in front of the crowd (even without your copy).

We hope you found our article on how to write a salutatory speech to be informative, not only if you are a salutatorian in your batch but also if you are a class honor. Delivering a speech to your fellow batchmates and the entire school population may be nerve-wracking, but the examples we’ve presented above will definitely help you in writing and delivering one amazing speech. Congratulations on your achievement as well as to your graduation.

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