Note: with a series of additions over the years, this post is now 11 Commencement speeches that I love.
Commencement speeches… the final words of wisdom that almost-graduates receive before heading out into the big world. These are important speeches.
I’ve seen a lot of them… I have had the privilege of attending 2 or 3 graduations a year at IESE Business School over the last 16 years… that’s a total of over 35 commencement speeches that I have personally attended 😉
Top 5 Commencement Speeches
Conor’s Top 11 Commencement Speeches
Here are my 11 favourite commencement speeches. They are from inspiring people, sharing personal experiences in a humble manner. This 11 pack of wisdom runs to less than 120 minutes of your life… Watch soon, watch often…
My top 11 commencement speeches (not in any order of preference):
- Neil Gaiman
- Steve Jobs
- JK Rowling
- David Brooks
- David Foster Wallace
- Prof Rick Rigsby
- Oprah Winfrey
- Bill Gates
- Bill Clinton
- Barrack Obama
Make Good Art
University of the Arts, 2012
Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. A must watch for any artist and everyone who hopes to be creative and successful.
Connect the Dots
Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks, including death itself.
The benefits of failure and imagination
Harvard University, 2008
J. K. Rowling is a British novelist, screenwriter and film producer best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series.
Make Commitments in Life
“We are not a society that nurtures commitment-making,” “New York Times” columnist David Brooks told the Class of 2015. “But your fulfillment in life will not come from how well you explore your freedom and keep your options open. … Your fulfillment in life will come by how well you end your freedom.”
David Foster Wallace
Learn to be Humble
Kenyon University, 2005
This is just the audio and not a video of his commencement speech, but the essential message on the need to learn humility and the ability to engage with diverse people and points of view is so well expressed that I include it.
Prof Rick Rigsby
Seek Wisdom, not Just Knowledge
Rick Rigsby commands the audience with his presence. His speech is reminiscent of Martin Luther King… with his tone of voice raising and lowering and his pacing of his words deliberately used to emphasise his message.
My Name is Bono and I am a Rock Star…
“That’s not a cause, that’s an emergency…”