What Makes a Graduation Speech Worth Remembering?

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“Learn to live with the cringe,” advised Taylor Swift at NYU’s recent commencement ceremony for the Class of 2022. Across the nation, graduates are being peppered with all kinds of advice from commencement speakers who range from politicians, scientists, CEOs, celebrities, and their own classmates. So what makes a good graduation speech? Is it pearls of wisdom like “Oh the places you’ll go” or “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” or the practical advice: “Wear sunscreen”? Or is it the humor or gravitas of the speaker? Next on Forum, we’ll talk about graduation speeches and hear from you: What is a piece of advice you’ve heard in a commencement speech that has stayed with you?


Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshman and undergraduate advising, Stanford University; author, "Your Turn: How to Be an Adult."

Dan Gerstein, founder, Gotham Ghostwriters; co-founder, Professional Speechwriters Association; Gerstein has worked as a speechwriter for U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, and is a contributing columnist for Forbes the Wall Street Journal and Politico.

Francisco Martinez, graduating senior and salutatorian, El Camino High School in South San Francisco.

Tatiana Jaimes, senior, Gateway High School a public charter school in San Francisco.