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Write your salutatorian speech like a seasoned professional

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You don’t become the salutatorian of your graduating class by luck; you do so by working hard and getting the second-best grade. After your hard work pays off, the next step is to deliver the salutatorian speech during your graduation ceremony. 

This is where many people get nervous, but we’re here to show you how to get on stage and deliver a great speech on that day. These detailed tips, steps, and salutatorian speech examples will guide you toward giving a speech you won’t forget easily, as you’ll see later in this article. But first, let us go over what a salutatorian speech is and why it is so important.

What is a salutatorian speech?

A salutatorian speech is a speech given by the salutatorian of a graduating class, either in high school or college. A salutatorian is a student with the second-highest cumulative GPA in the whole set. As a result of their academic achievement, salutatorians are honored to deliver a speech during the graduation ceremony.

The word salutatorian comes from the word salutatory, which means ‘welcoming.’ Hence, a salutatorian speech is given at the opening of the graduation ceremony. With this speech, the salutatorian is tasked with welcoming people to the graduation ceremony, acknowledging important guests, and speaking to the audience on behalf of their fellow students. 

How to write a salutatorian speech

1. Find out everything you need to know about the graduation ceremony

Different schools have different rules guiding student behavior, so you must find the ground rules about giving speeches and what to avoid. Talk to a teacher or organizer beforehand so you know how to tailor your speech. Ask if there are any specific rules you should follow or avoid. Also, find out what you’re expected to cover in your speech.

You should also find out how much time you have, what jokes or quotes are inappropriate, and what kinds of speeches are allowed. A great way to avoid trouble is to review your speech with a staff member before the ceremony.

2. Choose a suitable topic

The typical salutatorian speech already has a theme, but you can always add your spin. You can decide to give a funny speech, a motivational speech, or both. Whatever you choose, you need good salutatorian speech ideas that tie it together so it doesn’t look all jumbled up. Awesome salutatorian speeches tend to have a mix of different themes that blend well together.

3. Study your audience

The audience for salutatorian speeches is usually the parents, graduating students, and staff of the school. With that in mind, you must study them beforehand to understand how to address them. How will they respond to your salutatorian speech ideas? Will they enjoy the salutatorian speech examples you have in mind? Answering these questions can help you understand how to deliver your speech. If you’re stumped, check out some salutatorian speech examples.

4. Brainstorm 

Brainstorming before writing your speech is important because it helps you arrange your thoughts. It will help anyone come up with the most awesome salutatorian speeches. Brainstorming will help you figure out the direction you want your speech to go, what stories you want to include, and any other salutatorian speech ideas you may want to implement.

When brainstorming, you must do your research and look for other salutatorian speech examples. That will help you develop more salutatorian speech examples and salutatorian speech jokes.

5. Check out other salutatorian speech examples

Looking up other salutatorian speech examples will give you an idea of what you’re expected to do. It is part of your research, and you can learn many new things. You can also check out other speeches that aren’t necessarily salutatorian to better understand speechwriting.

There are many awesome salutatorian speeches online, and you can find templates that will help you structure your work. Good research will provide you with more ideas to help you develop a great salutatorian speech.

6. Structure your speech 

The structure of your speech is the most important part of the speech-making process. Awesome salutatorian speeches have a typical structure or outline you must follow – but we’ll get to that soon. First, you need to know the direction of your speech and create your outline accordingly.

Then, you need to assemble all the salutatorian speech ideas, quotes, and salutatorian speech jokes you have into a rough draft. This draft will be your first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you will still edit it. Remember that you will still do major editing and leave room for improvement.

7. Edit the speech until you get a final draft

Once you have your first draft, the next step is to edit the speech until satisfied. The editing part is where you refine the speech and make it good enough to deliver in front of your school. As you edit, you need to keep the following in mind;

  • Your speech needs to be short and straightforward. Take out any lengthy words and sentences and ensure that they fit into your required time
  • Make sure you check for grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. You can use editing apps to help you out or get the help of an editor
  • Get rid of filler words. They will make your speech cumbersome without adding anything to it.
  • Take out any boring or monotonous parts of the speech and ensure it is engaging enough to retain your audience’s attention

8. Get some other opinions

Once you are satisfied with your final result, it is time to get some external opinions. Many skip this step, and it doesn’t always turn out great. When you try out your salutatorian speech in front of others, you can get a good idea of how your audience will respond on graduation day. 

Practice giving your speech in front of some of your classmates, teachers, or family members. Try out your salutatorian speech examples on them and see how they respond. Ask for feedback and see how you can improve your speech. Also, try out your salutatorian speech jokes and stories on them and see if they find them appropriate and entertaining. 

9. Practice the speech before the day

The popular saying goes, ‘Practice makes perfect,’ and few things embody this saying more than speeches. You must practice your speech for several hours without sounding stiff and unnatural. As you practice, you can find ways to improve your salutatorian speech more.

An easy way to practice is by using a mirror. When you practice your speech in front of a mirror, you can see where your mistakes are and make adequate corrections to your posture, carriage, and demeanor. You can also practice in front of a friend who can give you honest feedback. 

salutatorian speech

Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/vEgVWRBr2VY 

Salutatorian speech outline

A salutatorian speech comes at the beginning of a ceremony, so it differs from many speeches. The speech primarily welcomes guests and family to a graduation ceremony. It has three distinct sections that we will look at in this section. They are;

1. Beginning

At the beginning of the speech, you welcome the guests to the event. If there are any special guests, they are also acknowledged here.

  • Start with a strong message
  • Welcome every guest to the event
  • Call out special guests of honor and welcome them, especially
  • Thank everyone for coming to celebrate with you

2. Body

This is where you give the main part of the speech. Here, you thank the people who contributed to your graduation. Remember that you’re also speaking for your classmates, so don’t make it too personal.

  • Thank your parents and teachers 
  • Include quotes and personal stories
  • Talk briefly about the journey so far

3. Ending

The ending should be directed to your classmates. This is your chance to talk to them and congratulate them on their achievements.

  • Congratulate your classmates and wish them future success
  • Share a few personal lessons you learned on the way
  • Leave them with an impactful message they will remember
salutatorian speech

Source: Pinterest

Tips for delivering your salutatorian speech

1. Keep your language simple and easy to understand

Don’t forget that your audience will be made up of mainly your classmates and family. You don’t need to use complicated words or long sentences in your speech. Your aim should be to leave them with something good and not confuse them. Clear and simple language will make it easier for you to understand when giving your speech.

2. Try to get your audience to relate to you

This tip sounds easy to follow since you’ll talk to an audience with your classmates. However, remember that you give your salutatorian speech to the other guests on behalf of your classmates. If you want them to follow your speech, try to be relatable.

3. Don’t go over the slated time limit

Typical salutatorian speech examples don’t follow a specific time limit, but you can find that out by asking a teacher in your school before graduation day. Since the salutatorian speech happens at the beginning of the ceremony, you may get a limited time. You have to make sure your speech fits into that time so you don’t go over and bore people with an extra-long speech.

4. Write down your key points

Writing down key points you can reference during your speech is important for most speeches. For your salutatorian speech, you may want to write down the names of the important guests you have to welcome and other important topics in your speech. This way, you avoid making an embarrassing mistake or straying from the main purpose of your speech.

5. Project a confident persona

Becoming a salutatorian is no easy feat, so you have to take your speech seriously. This means that you have to be confident and comfortable on the stage. Remove all signs of nervousness from your posture and be charismatic.

6. Maintain a polite demeanor

Nobody wants to listen to a grumpy or bored person deliver a speech, no matter how short that speech is. It would be best if you smiled, had good body language, and were generally engaging and polite. All these affect how well your audience will receive your speech.

7. Be authentic

One mistake many people make is climbing on stage to give a speech with a fake personality. Audiences can usually tell when you’re forcing something, which doesn’t always end well. Practice your delivery skills until you can give your speech as naturally as possible. You don’t want to sound like you’re acting.

Great salutatorian speech ideas

1. Use humor in your speech

Most awesome salutatorian speeches come with good jokes. As easy as this sounds, one bad joke can change the whole mood of a salutatorian speech. You need to pick appropriate jokes that work well with your audience and your speech’s tone and won’t offend people. Here are some ways you can do that:

How to implement your salutatorian speech jokes

  • Make fun of the clichés used in traditional speeches and turn them into a parody like Shane here
  • Use funny references that your classmates will understand
  • Make your salutatorian speech jokes into inspirational messages
  • Tell a funny story that happened during the school year
  • Instead of an actual joke with a punchline, use a playful tone to make a random thing funny

2. Bring up landmark events that took place during the school year

Every school has its set of drama, funny events, and embarrassing moments. You can bring up one of those stories in your speech and retell it with a funny twist. It works even better if the event involves you or your friends. Ensure the story is on an appropriate topic so you don’t offend anyone.

3. Get inspirational

Your salutatorian speech can include inspirational quotes and stories from your life for your classmates. Talk about the lessons you have learned on your journey and the dreams you have in mind. You can touch on the future of your class and the goals you hope to achieve. Inspire them to believe they can achieve their goals, too. 

4. Begin with motivational quotes

Motivational quotes are a great way to get people hooked on your speech. You can quote great and successful people who resonate with your audience to get the best results. However, you can ruin your speech by adding too many clichés like “This is the first day of the rest of our lives.” They are lazy, and you can expect to lose people’s interest immediately.

5. Thank people individually

Typically, a salutatorian should thank the relevant people who contributed to their success and class. To avoid becoming monotonous, you can pick a few people and thank them individually while mentioning specific ways they helped.

Can anyone write a salutatorian speech?

Traditionally, a salutatorian speech is given by the salutatorian, i.e., the student with the second-highest GPA in the graduating class. Technically, any good speechwriter can write a speech – you need some great salutatorian speech ideas to guide you. However, it is best for the individual presenting the speech to write it themselves. So, while anyone can write one, a salutatorian speech should be written by the salutatorian.

What is the difference between a valedictorian and a salutatorian?

A valedictorian is a student with the highest cumulative GPA in a graduating class. A salutatorian is a student with the second-highest cumulative GPA in a graduating class.
The valedictorian gives the valedictory speech at the end of the graduation ceremony. The salutatorian gives the salutatory speech at the beginning of the graduation ceremony.
The valedictorian’s speech is usually directed to their fellow students, with warnings to do better and accomplish more future goals. The salutatorian’s speech is given to the attendees of the graduation ceremony on behalf of the students. The salutatorian welcomes the guests and sets the tone for the rest of the ceremony.
Valedictorians typically sit on the stage during the graduation ceremony, and they usually have differences in their graduation robes to separate them from the rest of the graduating students. Salutatorians may also get separate robes but don’t always sit on the stage with the administrative staff.

Examples of awesome salutatorian speeches

Here are some great salutatorian speech examples that will help you write awesome salutatorian speeches.

salutatorian speech


salutatorian speech


salutatorian speech


salutatorian speech


salutatorian speech


How does the speaker discuss the future in Passage_1?

The speaker in Passage_1 faces the future with uncertainty yet optimism. They acknowledge the unknown but are determined to thrive, contributing to a transformed world.

What are the key ideas discussed in Passage_1?

The passage explores three key ideas:

  1. Past: Freshmen transformed into purpose-driven seniors, ready to impact their world.
  2. Present: Learning extends beyond classrooms, with stumbles met by community support. Lifelong friendships shape us.
  3. Future: Uncertainty accepted, but confidence prevails. Hard work continues, and diverse paths reshape the world.

Who is the speaker of Passage_1?

The speaker of Passage_1 is the salutatorian of the graduating class. During the graduation ceremony, they address the audience: esteemed faculty members, parents, families, friends, and fellow graduates. Their introduction acknowledges the occasion’s significance, marking both the conclusion of a chapter in their lives and the commencement of a new one.

How long should a salutatorian speech be?

Graduation speeches are powerful, but keep them brief! 5-10 minutes is perfect. Practice beforehand to nail the timing and flow. Preparation breeds confidence, so master your speech and enjoy your well-deserved graduation moment!

What are some topics to discuss in a salutatorian speech?

Graduation speeches hit hard, but keep them short! Aim for 5-10 minutes and pack a punch with humor, inspiration, and gratitude. Mention funny school moments, share personal growth stories, and thank key supporters. Quotes can set the mood, but keep it fresh! Relax, enjoy your moment, and shine!

How can I make my salutatorian speech meaningful?

Craft a graduation speech that resonates! Congratulate and celebrate your classmates. Share personal lessons learned to connect with them on a deeper level. Finally, leave an impactful message that lingers, motivating and inspiring them for the future. Keep it short and sweet, but make it matter! This combination creates a meaningful and memorable speech that your classmates will carry long after the ceremony. So go forth, shine on stage, and inspire your fellow graduates as they embark on their next adventures!

What are some tips for delivering a successful salutatorian speech?

Graduation speeches are powerful, but remember, brevity is key! Aim for clear, relatable language that connects with your audience. Prepare key points and respect the time limit. Project confidence, warmth, and a genuine smile. Most importantly, be yourself and share your authentic journey and message. This recipe, combined with your unique touch, will create a lasting impact on your fellow graduates as they embark on their exciting adventures!

How can I make my salutatorian speech memorable?

Celebrate classmates, share personal lessons, and leave a clear and relatable message – that’s the graduation speech recipe! Connect with humor and shared memories, respect time limits, and be you with confidence. Sprinkle in gratitude and motivational quotes for extra spice. Voilà, a memorable speech to inspire your fellow graduates on their journeys ahead!

What should be included in a salutatorian speech?

Congrats, classmates. I wish you endless success! Share personal lessons you learned, your journey’s growth, and insights gained. Leave a lasting mark with an impactful message – a quote, idea, or call to action that inspires them to shine. Short, sweet, and meaningful, your speech will resonate long after the ceremony!

What is the difference between a salutatorian and valedictorian speech?

Salutatorian vs. Valedictorian: While both speeches honor top academic achievement, there’s a key difference! The salutatorian welcomes everyone at the ceremony, setting a celebratory tone. Their speech often shares personal lessons and an impactful message for classmates, while the valedictorian, traditionally seated on stage, speaks directly to students. Both roles are crucial, reminding us that graduation celebrates individual success and a shared journey and future possibilities.


Becoming the salutatorian of your class is a big deal. It shows that you worked hard to get to that spot, and it is something to celebrate.

In this article, you’ve learned how to write awesome salutatorian speeches, complete with steps on using good salutatorian speech jokes. Follow these instructions, and your salutatorian speech will be a memorable one! Download Orai from the app store today, and practice with your AI speech coach anytime!


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