Looking for a little inspiration? Need someone to light a fire in your life and lead you on a more aspirational path? These commencement speakers are exactly what you need to encourage you to find success, take a leap of faith, or find joy in helping others.
Whether you’re looking to transform your own life or you’re planning to give an inspirational speech to others, these great speeches will inspire you and entertain you.
There is no shortage of motivational (and fun) commencement speeches to watch. Comedians such as Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler have offered a comical twist on the ceremony. Business icons like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have given their sage advice to future graduates. J.K. Rowling and Toni Morrison have taken their story-telling gifts to the stage to inspire students as they head off on another stage of their lives.
By examining the speeches of these greats (and of many others), you can find inspiration in their themes, delivery styles, and messages. Some of these speeches will align with what you are hoping to achieve; some of them will not. You can take inspiration from different speakers and set out on a journey of personal improvement. Or if you’re preparing for a speech of your own, you can use these speeches to create a masterpiece that reflects your own personality, creativity, and style.
No matter what your purpose, you can find great enjoyment, inspiration, and amusement by spending a few minutes with these motivating individuals who are ready to open your minds, touch your hearts, and stir up enthusiasm in your life!
J. K. Rowling once lived on the brink of homelessness in a period when she couldn’t imagine a light at the end of the tunnel. She shares her inspirational journey from working a life-changing day job at Amnesty International to suffering in personal failure to ultimately finding worldwide success and admiration.
President Obama inspires the graduates of Barnard College to be the women who will lead the way of change in this world by reaching high and persevering against any setbacks they may face. He reminisces about the strong women in his life who are powerful examples of females who have shattered myths and paved the way for those who have followed behind them.
Stephen Colbert revisits his alma mater on the 25th anniversary of his graduation day to tell the story of how he was not handed his diploma as he crossed the stage and instead received a piece of paper that said “See me.” He amusingly describes his graduation day and jokingly talks about the ways Northwestern has failed the graduates before offering sage advice about the importance of serving what you love.
Oprah Winfrey expresses her love of education by describing this Earth as a school, this life as a classroom, and our ultimate secret to learning as our ability to be open to the lessons of the universe. She tells stories of earning her last credit of college (years later), getting a talk show (after being fired from a different job), and experiencing a crisis at the school she built in South Africa and how these life lessons inspired her to evolve and to improve her life.
Meryl Streep reminisces about ways she has pretended to be other people both on the screen and in her life, including creating a persona to make boys like her in high school and deferring to boys whenever they spoke. She reminds the Barnard graduates that women have made huge strides around the world and can now imagine very different possibilities of their future.
Don’t miss our next post on November 1st featuring:
Mindy Kaling, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and more awesome speakers