Keynote Speeches for College Graduation

4 Points of Good Keynote Speeches for College Graduations

Success isn’t just about having good grades or getting into the right grad school. It’s about mastering the leadership qualities that are crucial for any field. At a college graduation, young people need encouragement to develop the skills that are necessary for success in any field. In a recent college graduation, I delivered a keynote speech in which I urged all graduates to hone these qualities in themselves.

  1. Mastering the Art of Communication

    Communication is one of the most fundamental skills any leader must possess. Anyone who manages others must know how to be clear and firm when communicating their expectations. At the same time, a true leader inspires others to think creatively and propose their own innovative solutions. Commanding a high level of respect from others while at the same time empowering them to step into their own potential requires strong communication skills. To build these skills, I encouraged new grads to practice being thoughtful about all of their communications for a full week, and then reflecting on what they could do better.

  2. Taking Calculated Risks

    Those who always play it safe may achieve security, but they’re unlikely to reach great heights of success. That doesn’t mean people should take risks without weighing the consequences—risk-taking requires thoughtful consideration. In my keynote speech, I advised college graduates to take risks when they know they have a good chance of succeeding, and when they know they can afford to fail. I also encouraged them to view failure as part of the journey to success they are embarking on after college graduation. A keynote speech should encourage them to make bold moves informed by careful consideration.

  3. Winning Influence by Supporting Others

    In my keynote speech, I emphasized to college grads that succeeding doesn’t mean just looking out for yourself. In fact, that’s guaranteed to prevent people from reaching their highest potential. Winning influence over others—a vital strategy for success—means supporting others in their own journey by making them feel empowered. That means recognizing their accomplishments and pointing them out to others, giving credit where it’s due. It also means pointing out others’ hidden strengths and encouraging them to reach higher. Having influence means being seen as trustworthy, encouraging, and committed to the success of the whole team, I stressed in my talk.

  4. Finding Advocates and Mentors

    No one achieves success alone—the most successful people recruit a team of strong supporters. I advised new grads to assemble a team of mentors and advocates, who can provide valuable career advice and help with networking. These experienced people might be college professors, former managers for an internship, family friends, or others. They can serve as references for potential jobs, alert grads to new opportunities, or help with strategizing about how to ask for a promotion, for example. Plus, having encouraging advocates and mentors is a huge confidence builder, reassuring grads that they’re capable of success and never have to go it alone.

Keynote speeches for college graduations need to encourage new graduates to look beyond the traditional markers of success. As graduates take the next step on their career path, honing the qualities that will prepare them to become leaders in their fields is vital to their success. Choosing the right keynote speaker will leave them with the tools to fulfill their highest potential.


Copyright © 2023 Joel Garfinkle, All Rights Reserved. Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S. He is a Master Certified Coach with 25 years of executive coaching, corporate training, and speaking experience. He is the author of 11 books, including Executive Presence: Step Into Your Power, Convey Confidence and Lead With Conviction. He has worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Amazon, Deloitte, Eli Lilly, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Oracle, and Microsoft. Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter which is delivered to over 10,000 people. You can view his video library of over 200+ easily actionable 2-minute inspirational video clips by subscribing to his YouTube Channel.

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