Video: 10 Must See Inspirational Commencement Speeches

by / ⠀Personal Branding Startup Advice / March 18, 2013

j.k. rowlingEvery year thousands of commencement speechs are delivered at schools around the country. Many of them carry inspirational, motivational and up-lifting messages. However, there are always a few that stand out above the crowd. Here is a list of ten speeches that we think are more than worth your time. Let us know what commencement speeches are your favorite in the comments!

Steve Jobs – Stanford University

Here we see Steve Jobs delivering his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005. In it he talks about getting fired from Apple in 1985, life & death.

Oprah Winfrey – Howard University

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey received an honorary doctorate and inspired an audience of graduates at historically black Howard University. “After all the partying is over,” Winfrey said, “the anxiety may start to creep in.¬†What do you now do with all this education?”

Jon Stewart, College of William & Mary

Jon Stewart, speaking at his alma mater, the College of William & Mary, was no less funny than he typically is on his nightly “Daily Show” TV program. “I know that the¬†decisions I made after college worked out. But at the time I didn’t know that they would.”

J.K. Rowland – Harvard University

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling in her commencement speech at Harvard University talked about the “benefits of failure” and the “crucial importance of imagination.”

Conan O’Brien – Harvard University

Thirteen years ago, Conan O’Brien was still host of his long-running “Late Night” TV program when he gave the commencement speech to students at Harvard University, his alma mater.

Stephen Colbert – Northwestern University

“Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.”

Ellen DeGeneres – Tulane University

Top-rated television show host and New Orleans native Ellen DeGeneres was the keynote speaker at Tulane University’s 2009 Commencement. This was the graduation of the “Katrina Class” that entered in Fall 2005.

David Foster Wallace – Kenyon College

This is the commencement address he gave to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005. It captures his electric mind, and also his humility–the way he elevated and made meaningful, beautiful, many of the lonely thoughts that rattle around in our heads.

Sheryl Sandberg – Barnard College

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg delivered the keynote at Barnard College’s 119th Commencement ceremony. Addressing approximately 600 members of Barnard’s Class of 2011, Sandberg implored the young women to “never let your fear overwhelm your desire.

Aaron Sorkin – Syracuse University

Aaron Sorkin ’83, screenwriter of the Social Network, used his particular blend of wit and principles to deliver a stirring commencement address for our 158th graduation ceremony on Sunday, 13 May 2012.

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