For a public speaker to be effective, a prepared speech is something you don’t just read. You put emotions on each sentence and say it the way you’ve normally do in a normal conversation.
The following are examples of well-executed prepared speeches.
Conan O’Brien’s Dartmouth Graduation Speech
Conan O’Brien’s Dartmouth College graduation speech in 2011 is an outstanding example of a humorous speech. Find out now why.
Here is the full text of the commencement address:
Before I begin, I must point out that behind me sits a highly admired President of the United States and decorated war hero while I, a cable television talk show host, has been chosen to stand here and impart wisdom. I pray I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today.
Graduates, faculty, parents, relatives, undergraduates, and old people that just come to these things: good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth class of 2011.
Today, you have achieved something special, something only 92 percent of Americans your age will ever know: a college diploma. That’s right, with your college diploma you now have a crushing advantage over 8 percent of the workforce. I’m talking about dropout losers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. Incidentally, speaking of Mr. Zuckerberg, only at Harvard would someone have to invent a massive social network just to talk with someone in the next room.
My first job as your commencement speaker is to illustrate that life is not fair. For example, you have worked tirelessly for four years to earn the diploma you’ll be receiving this weekend.
That was great.
And Dartmouth is giving me the same degree for interviewing the fourth lead in Twilight. Deal with it. Another example that life is not fair: if it does rain, the powerful rich people on stage get the tent. Deal with it.
But this is a wonderful occasion and it is great to be here in New Hampshire, where I am getting an honorary degree and all the legal fireworks I can fit in the trunk of my car.
But don’t get me wrong, I take my task today very seriously. When I got the call two months ago to be your speaker, I decided to prepare with the same intensity many of you have devoted to an important term paper. So late last night, I began. I drank two cans of Red Bull, snorted some Adderall, played a few hours of Call of Duty, and then opened my browser.
I think Wikipedia put it best when they said “Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States.” Thank you and good luck.
Besides policy, another hallmark of great commencement speeches is deep, profound advice like “Reach for the stars.” Well, today I am not going to waste your time with empty clichés. Instead, I am going to give you real, practical advice that you will need to know if you are going to survive the next few years.
First, adult acne lasts longer than you think. I almost cancelled two days ago because I had a zit on my eye.
Guys, this is important: You cannot iron a shirt while wearing it.
Here’s another one: If you live on ramen noodles for too long, you lose all feelings in your hands and your stool becomes a white gel.
And finally, wearing colorful Converse high-tops beneath your graduation robe is a great way to tell your classmates that this is just the first of many horrible decisions you plan to make with the rest of your life.
Of course there are many parents here and I have real advice for them as well. Parents, you should write this down:
Many of your children you haven’t seen them in four years. Well, now you are about to see them every day when they come out of the basement to tell you the wi-fi isn’t working.
If your child majored in Fine Arts or Philosophy, you have good reason to be worried. The only place where they are now really qualified to get a job is ancient Greece. Good luck with that degree.
The traffic today on east Wheelock is going to be murder, so once they start handing out diplomas, you should slip out in the middle of the k’s. And, I have to tell you this: You will spend more money framing your child’s diploma than they will earn in the next six months. It’s tough out there, so be patient. The only people hiring right now are panera bread and Mexican drug cartels.
Yes, you parents must be patient because it is indeed a grim job market out there. And one of the reasons it’s so tough finding work is that aging baby boomers refuse to leave their jobs. Trust me on this. Even when they promise you for five years that they are going to leave—and say it on television—I mean you can go on YouTube right now and watch the guy do it, there is no guarantee they won’t come back. Of course I’m speaking generally.
But enough. This is not a time for grim prognostications or negativity. No, I came here today because, believe it or not, I actually do have something real to tell you.
Eleven years ago I gave an address to a graduating class at Harvard. I have not spoken at a graduation since because I thought I had nothing left to say.
But then 2010 came. And now I’m here, three thousand miles from my home, because I learned a hard but profound lesson last year and I’d like to share it with you. In 2000, I told graduates “Don’t be afraid to fail.” Well, now I’m here to tell you that though you should not fear failure, you should do your very best to avoid it. Nietzsche famously said, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But what he failed to stress is that it almost kills you.
Disappointment stings and, for driven, successful people like yourselves, it is disorienting. What Nietzsche should have said is, “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you watch a lot of Cartoon Network and drink mid-price Chardonnay at 11 in the morning.”
Now, by definition, commencement speakers at an Ivy League college are considered successful. But a little over a year ago, I experienced a profound and very public disappointment. I did not get what I wanted, and I left a system that had nurtured and helped define me for the better part of 17 years. I went from being in the center of the grid to not only off the grid, but underneath the coffee table that the grid sits on, lost in the shag carpeting that is underneath the coffee table supporting the grid. It was the making of a career disaster, and a terrible analogy.
But then something spectacular happened. Fogbound, with no compass, and adrift, I started trying things. I grew a strange, cinnamon beard. I dove into the world of social media. I started tweeting my comedy. I threw together a national tour. I played the guitar. I did stand-up, wore a skin-tight blue leather suit, recorded an album, made a documentary, and frightened my friends and family.
Ultimately, I abandoned all preconceived perceptions of my career path and stature and took a job on basic cable with a network most famous for showing reruns, along with sitcoms created by a tall, black man who dresses like an old, Black woman. I did a lot of silly, unconventional, spontaneous and seemingly irrational things and guess what: with the exception of the blue leather suit, it was the most satisfying and fascinating year of my professional life.
To this day I still don’t understand exactly what happened, but I have never had more fun, been more challenged—and this is important—had more conviction about what I was doing.
How could this be true? Well, it’s simple: There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized. I went to college with many people who prided themselves on knowing exactly who they were and exactly where they were going.
At Harvard, five different guys in my class told me that they would one day be President of the United States. Four of them were later killed in motel shoot-outs. The other one briefly hosted Blues Clues, before dying senselessly in yet another motel shoot-out. Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42.
One’s dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course. This happens in every job, but because I have worked in comedy for twenty-five years, I can probably speak best about my own profession.
Way back in the 1940s there was a very, very funny man named Jack Benny. He was a giant star, easily one of the greatest comedians of his generation. And a much younger man named Johnny Carson wanted very much to be Jack Benny. In some ways he was, but in many ways he wasn’t. He emulated Jack Benny, but his own quirks and mannerisms, along with a changing medium, pulled him in a different direction.
And yet his failure to completely become his hero made him the funniest person of his generation. David Letterman wanted to be Johnny Carson, and was not, and as a result my generation of comedians wanted to be David Letterman. and none of us are. My peers and I have all missed that mark in a thousand different ways. But the point is this: It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention.
So, at the age of 47, after 25 years of obsessively pursuing my dream, that dream changed. For decades, in show business, the ultimate goal of every comedian was to host The Tonight Show. It was the Holy Grail, and like many people I thought that achieving that goal would define me as successful. But that is not true.
No specific job or career goal defines me, and it should not define you.
In 2000—in 2000 I told graduates to not be afraid to fail, and I still believe that. But today I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.
Many of you here today are getting your diploma at this Ivy League school because you have committed yourself to a dream and worked hard to achieve it. And there is no greater cliché in a commencement address than “Follow your dream.” Well, I am here to tell you that whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change. And that’s okay.
Four years ago, many of you had a specific vision of what your college experience was going to be and who you were going to become. And I bet, today, most of you would admit that your time here was very different from what you imagined. Your roommates changed, your major changed, for some of you your sexual orientation changed. I bet some of you have changed your sexual orientation since I began this speech. I know I have.
But through the good and especially the bad, the person you are now is someone you could never have conjured in the fall of 2007.
I have told you many things today, most of it foolish but some of it true. I’d like to end my address by breaking a taboo and quoting myself from 17 months ago.
At the end of my final program with NBC, just before signing off, I said “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” Today, receiving this honor and speaking to the Dartmouth class of 2011 from behind a tree-trunk, I have never believed that more.
Thank you very much, and congratulations.
Kevin Costner’s Eulogy for Whitney Houston
Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard” co-star, gave a heartwarming eulogy that brought tears to the eyes of mourners at New Hope Baptist Church. He was among eight people close to Houston who addressed the crowd.
Full text of the eulogy here:
I’m going to say some stories. Maybe some of them you know; maybe some of them you don’t. I wrote ‘em down because I didn’t want to miss anything.
The song “I Will Always Love You” almost wasn’t. It wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. The first choice was going to be “What Becomes of a Broken Heart.” But it had been out the year before and in another movie, and we felt that it wouldn’t have the same impact and so we couldn’t use it.
So what becomes of our broken hearts?
Whitney returns home today, to the place where it all began, and I urge us all, inside and outside, across the nation and around the world, to dry our tears, suspend our sorrow, and perhaps our anger, just long enough, just long enough to remember the sweet miracle of Whitney.
At the height of her fame as a singer, i asked her to be my co-star in a movie called The Bodyguard. I thought she was the perfect choice, but the red flags came out immediately. Maybe I should think this over a bit! [laughs]
I was reminded that this would be her first acting role. We could also think about another singer was a suggestion. Maybe somebody white. Nobody ever said it out loud, but it was a fair question. It was. There would be a lot riding on this. Maybe a more experienced actress was the way to go. It was clear I really had to think about this.
I told everyone that I had taken notice that Whitney was Black. The only problem was I thought she was perfect for what we were trying to do…
The Whitney I knew, despite her success and worldwide fame, still wondered: “Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?”
It was the burden that made her great…
Whitney, if you could hear me now, I would tell you, you weren’t just good enough — you were great. You sang the whole damn song without a band. You made the picture what it was.
A lot of leading men could have played my part, a lot of guys could have filled that role, but you, Whitney, I truly believed that you were the only one who could have played Rachel Marin at that time. [applause]
You weren’t just pretty — you were as beautiful as a woman could be. And people didn’t just like you, Whitney — they loved you.
I was your pretend bodyguard once not so long ago, and now you’re gone too soon, leaving us with memories of a little girl who stepped bravely in front of this church, in front of the ones that loved you first, in front of the ones that loved you best and loved you the longest.
Then, boldly, you stepped into the white-hot light of the world stage, and what you did is the rarest of achievements. You set the bar so high that professional singers, your own colleagues, they don’t want to sing that little country song — what would be the point?
Now the only ones who sing your songs are young girls like you who are dreaming of being you some day.
And so to you, Bobbi Kristina, and to all those young girls who are dreaming that dream and maybe thinking they aren’t good enough, I think Whitney would tell you: Guard your bodies, and guard the precious miracle of your own life, and then sing your hearts out — knowing that there’s a lady in heaven who is making God himself wonder how he created something so perfect.
So off you go, Whitney, off you go… escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. And when you sing before him, don’t you worry — you’ll be good enough.