It was a about year ago that I got a deal for YouTube Red that gave me 6 months of subscription for $1, so I decided to try it out. I had never been a big watcher of YouTube before because I believed it was like watching TV which I always considered a waste of time. BUT, I had recently (at the time) been told that Sheryl Sandberg’s graduation speech was really good and that I should go watch it. It was May/June and all the graduations were taking place and so the first thing I did was look up “best graduation speeches” and my life was changed forever.

Having written a graduation speeches for both my elementary school and college ceremonies (which I will share at the end), I had an idea of what made a good speech and what contributes to a horrible speech.

There’s something just amazing about graduation speeches because they literally are the world’s best knowledge summed up in like 10–15 minutes. The life experience and wisdom of a single person combined with hours of their own research putting it together is something of a sight to hear.

TED talks today are really almost a streamlined fancy version of a graduation speech, given by a leading expert in their field. However, there’s just something magical about a graduation speech because you have a captive (possibly drunk, non-attentive) group of accomplished students who are about to embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Graduation (otherwise known as Commencement) speeches are more about imparting life lessons and life journeys of a person rather than informing or demonstrating their latest research. They’re meant to be aspirational while TED talks are more inspirational.

They are about someone who has already walked the path providing insight, and possible steps to get there, but most of all, proof that it’s possible (and that everything will be OK!)

While the reports are still coming in from this past month’s round of commencements for 2017, there is still a very large database of existing ones to look back on! Though, if you’ve seen Will Ferrell’s USC speech, you won’t be disappointed. Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard speech is pretty good too along with Tim Cook’s for MIT. The irony being that Harvard gave Zuckerberg an honorary degree years after he dropped out…

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