Friday, 4 December 2015

How to deliver an end of year speech
 as good as a TED talk!

It is that time of year when principals try to get inspired to write an appropriate end of year or prize giving speech. We look back at the topics, quotes and styles we have used in previous years and a quiet panic sets in as the blank screen stares back at us!

I have used many authors to convey my message from Dr Seuss to Steve Jobs and even written my own poem to the leavers. The quest to be original, meaningful and eloquent arises every year resulting in many hours spent crafting a speech that is delivered in a short time.

I remember asking a year 8 student many years ago how she liked my speech and she answered that she couldn’t actually recall any of it as she was so nervous about coming up on stage to receive her leavers scroll!

I haven’t let this dissuade me from taking great pride in writing a meaningful speech to the leavers but have learnt the following tricks of the trade over the years to ensure engagement:

      • ·      Include student reflections or student voice as this personalises the            speech
      • ·      Use humour
      • ·      One good quote, not too esoteric, as a final thought
      • ·      Get all the thank you comments over first and then address the                    leavers
      • ·      Physically address the leavers, that is speak directly to them as it is            more meaningful
      • ·      Don’t bother spending hours searching google to ‘rob’ a speech as the        context and wording never really fits
      • ·      Reflect on the year but don’t recount it

Leading TED innovators and thinkers talks have inspired us since their inception in 2006. They have set the presentation bar high using technology, entertainment and have truly influenced today’s society. According to Carmine Gallo, who has broken down hundreds of TED talks, spoken to presenters and top researchers in the field of psychology, communication and neuroscience, there are nine secrets of all successful presentations.
I have taken each of the nine secrets and translated them into the context of an end of year speech:
      • ·      Include sentiments that reach both the head and heart that reveal your passion
      • ·      Tell a story to gain emotional attachment and meaningful connections
      • ·      Treat the speech like the intimacy of a conversation
      • ·      Be novel and include new information or use a unique approach
      • ·      Deliver a “wow” moment
      • ·      Include genuine humour, not jokes
      • ·      Stick to a proven length of time, too long will ‘kill’ it
      • ·      Use vivid examples to ensure recall
      • ·      Stick to your area of expertise, be authentic, open and share your truth




This year in my speech I have included a personal story which links to the head/heart sentiment and allows me to speak with passion. The personal story will hopefully engage the students and touch their emotions. I have a did you know …. moment and even a wow one too and of course I always recount a humorous phrase or situation. I believe in brevity, openly sharing my feelings and thoughts and ending with an age appropriate inspirational quote, short poem or extract or a punch line such as:

Now it is your time to flourish, to show your stunning colours and BLOOM!

Oh, the places you’ll go!

Go and colour the world but always remember the garden that nurtured you.

Learning is not a spectator sport!

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.


So, I was going to say “good Luck” but luck has little to do with success and being an inspiring speaker. As Carmine Galla advises:

You need examples, techniques, passion, and practice. You also need courage – the courage to follow your passion, articulate your ideas simply, and express what makes your heart sing.









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