How to Write a Salutatorian Speech

Two Methods:Speech HelpWriting Your Own Salutatorian Speech

You have been named salutatorian – second best in the class, and the first student to give a speech at graduation. Congratulations! Unfortunately, speech writing is not one of the subjects that got you so close to the top of the ladder... so what do you do now?

Speech Help

Sample Topics for Salutatorian Speech

Sample Funny Salutatorian Speech

Sample Serious Salutatorian Speech

Writing Your Own Salutatorian Speech

  1. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 1
    Learn your limits. Ask the person in charge of the graduation to tell you about how much time you have, and if there is anything you need to keep in mind. Does your school allow religious sentiments in the speech or does the speech require certain topics? It is a lot easier to write with this in mind than it is to rewrite later.
  2. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 2
    Choose your basic topic. Decide on a favorable topic to say to your class, teachers, and parents. Select an important and interesting subject to address to your classmates and people in the audience. This is the broad or general topic--diversity, or ambition, or the importance of Latin and Ancient Greek in everyday life. The topic should be something you have a genuine interest in, not what you feel you are supposed to show interest about.
  3. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 3
    Open strong and light. Your family and friends want to hear you, at the same time, keep them interested, as well as the strangers who are there to see people you do not know get their diplomas. The opening is where you catch people. You want to make sure it gets their attention. You are the first of the main events at graduation. A whispered, "I want to talk to you today about the importance of feeding the hungry" is not going to do. Avoid openings, such as "I want to talk about...", unless you are going to make a joke about it. A joke is not a bad way to start, as long as it is in good taste and related to what you mean to say. The most common strong opening is an anecdote, preferably a slightly humorous, or at least light, one. Even if you want to talk about something heavy as you go, open with something that people can relate to, and will make them smile. For example, if you want to talk about the importance of intervention in tragic events in the world, open with a personal story. If your friends are in these stories, ask them first if they are okay with it. Pick something that you will be able to notice again at the end, to tie the speech together. You may want to write the opening and closing both before you write the middle.
  4. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 4
    Make the bridge into your subject--give people a pause to laugh at whatever you've related, then move into your topic. "When I think about that story, I realize..." or "I know, it's funny... but it's not funny when..."
  5. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 5
    Lay out your topic. Avoid first-person references, as in, "When I was reading about this, I found out that..." Just say what it is you found out. "XX% of high school graduates can't read a job application"; "For hundreds of years, Latin was the single most important study in academia"; "Even now, while we're celebrating, in [dangerous location], people need help."
  6. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 6
    Choose what you most like about your class--it's a brief essay on your topic. Give the facts and your suggestions. You did not get to be salutatorian without knowing how to do this part.
  7. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 7
    Make another bridge. Take the focus back to the graduation once you have finished the meaty part. Relate what you have said to the audience. Name a couple of the people used in your speech.
  8. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 8
    Return to the beginning. If you started with an anecdote, finish with a comment of some sort on it. (Eg, "You know, after my brother helped me get the cat free...") The tone should be light, but keep it connected to what you said in between. Finish with a flourish--either something humorous or something profound (but not cliched).
  9. Image titled Write a Salutatorian Speech Step 9
    Turn the speech over to the next speaker or event in the graduation, have a seat, and enjoy watching the valedictorian squirm while she waits her turn.


  • If there's a word you've written but never spoken, then make sure you're pronouncing it right. Hearing a snicker from the far back corner because you have mispronounced a word is not going to help your nerves.
  • Make sure you read your speech aloud several times. Make sure it is not too long when spoken, and get a feel for how it sounds. You will be less nervous if it's old hat when the audience arrives.
  • Keep your speech short and clean.

Article Info

Categories: Speechwriting