Our Favorite Speeches Ever | Commencement Speeches to Inspire

Share on
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

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.

Article continues below
Need help planning graduation?
GraduationSource is here to help!

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
Author of Harry Potter

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 Barack Obama
Former U.S. President

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
Television Personality/Comedian

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
Media Executive/Talk Show Host/Philanthropist

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

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.

New Post every Friday 🙂

Don’t miss our next post on November 1st featuring:

Mindy Kaling, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and more awesome speakers

Share on
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
collection of graduation material

sample cap & gown

Graduation Coordinators Only
essential graduation survival guide

Get the ebook

five star rating

Highest Rated & Most Reviewed Graduation Company World-Wide

Tyren Alvidrez
Tyren Alvidrez
Cottonwood Church
Wonderful Experience. Excellent customer service, prices and prompt delivery.
Cottonwood Leadership College, 4505 Katella Ave, Los Alamitos CA 90720, Cottonwood Church
Phone: (714) 947-8903
Yolanda Boles
Yolanda Boles
Velasco Elementary
"The parents and the students would like to say thanks for making our children look nice for graduation. The smile on the faces of our children when I delivered the gowns to their classroom was overwhelming and it's all because of you!"
401 North Gulf Blvd, Freeport TX 77541
Phone: (979) 730-7260
Cary Odio
Cary Odio
Somerset Academy
"Amazing like always! We have used your company for many years and will continue to use it for many more!"
20291 SW 180 ST, Miami Florida 33187
Phone: (305) 969-6074
S.K. Smith
S.K. Smith
Franklinton High School
Your valuable staff was 5 stars. I cannot speak highly enough for your customer service. They completed my order and helped me get our medal in time for graduation!! I appreciate you and your staff and I will definitely be using you in the future!!
1 Demon Circle, Franklinton LA 70438
Phone: (985) 839-6781
Megan Soule
Megan Soule
Everest Value School
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your patience, and your flexibility, and your help, and...EVERYTHING. We owe you the deepest gratitude for making our graduation a success!!
668 S. Catalina Street, Los Angeles CA 90005
Phone: (818) 749-4223
Rebecca Magallan
Rebecca Magallan
"I placed an order with errors but your staff was very helpful and quickly corrected them and got me my stoles promptly."
Liberty Academy
Roberta Farina
Roberta Farina
Bethel Christian Church
Your staff were awesome! Thank you for helping us work through the issues and ensuring that we had everything we needed within the timeline for our Easter Service. The staff went above and beyond to assist on every level. Our choir looked amazing.
13200 E 11 Mile Rd, Warren MI 48089
Phone: (586) 872-6477
Amber Jordan
Amber Jordan
Kindergarten Paraprofessional
"Thank you for always honoring our requests. It's a privilege ordering from your company and friendly staff."
Satilla Elementary School, 5325 Old Axson Rd, Douglas, GA 31535
Phone: (912) 384-2602
Pablo Lopez
Pablo Lopez
Concierge Privé
"I was in desperate need of bright colorful gowns for a gospel choir to perform at a Celebration of Life. Two days before the event, I found your company and you handled everything and made it happen. It takes a lot to impress me, and you impressed me."
74265 Desert Rose Lane Indian Wells CA 92210
Phone: (213) 327-8109
Betsy Johanson
Betsy Johanson
School Counselor
"They worked hard to ensure we were happy with our order. The ordering process was extremely easy and we were able to get everything in an incredibly timely fashion. Great company to work with."
Wauneta-Palisade Schools, 214 West Wichita, Wauneta Nebraska 69045
Phone: (308) 394 5427