Giving a speech at any age is scary, but with a little practice, everything will be fine. Graduating from the 8th grade is a turning point in the lives of young people. The 8th grade is often the end of middle school, and high school is a big next step. An inspirational graduation speech will be memorable to your classmates and help pump them up for what's next.
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Start with a Quote
Starting a speech can be the hardest part. Try looking at favourite famous quotes that offer inspiration or humour. This can be a great way to organise a speech and help make the beginning easier to work through. There are dozens of quality books and websites dedicated to famous quotes, organised by category or topic. Selecting one to start with may be difficult, and you may narrow it down to two or three. If you absolutely cannot decide, pick one to start with and throw the other one in halfway through your speech. An example of a good opening for a speech using a famous quote could be: "Anatole France once said, 'To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.' As I stand here before all of you, my classmates and teachers, I feel both anxious and excited about what lies ahead of us..."
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Make Your Speech Personal
Remember that your peers are also graduating 8th graders heading on to high school. Some may go to different schools, others you will see in a couple months when 9th grade starts. The majority of students graduating will have been in the same grade level, sharing classes and teachers, for several years at least. Think of funny or touching stories that involve others in your class. Keep the stories appropriate, of course, but use the stories as a way to connect with the audience. Talk about a class project or science fair, or a school play or sports championship. The stories do not have to involve every student by name, but they should be something the other students can recall and connect with.
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A speech is an excellent opportunity to put the spotlight on others. Consider the past few years, middle school mostly. Perhaps there was a particular teacher who helped students a lot, or friends who helped with projects or student council. Say "thank you" to anyone who deserves a special thank you. This will turn the audience's attention to those people, which can help reduce stage anxiety too. It can also be nice to offer a thank you to the school principal, and assistant principal if there is one, as well as the PTA or parents who were involved with field trips or activities. It is also nice to thank your parents or guardians.
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Write, Practice and Time Your Speech
Practice will not eliminate all of the stage fright, but it can help. Write your speech out and speak aloud as you write. This helps create sentences that flow nicely. Avoid words that you cannot pronounce easily or that sound unnatural for you to say. Rehearse your speech alone, in front of a mirror or webcam so you can assess your posture, expressions and behaviour as you deliver the speech. Work on giving the majority of the speech without looking at note cards. The goal is to memorise the speech so you can look at your audience instead of cards. As you practice, set a timer or look at the clock. Timing your speech practice helps you learn where you tend to talk too fast or too slow. Also, most speeches are given a time limit and it is best to stay within that time limit. Get as close to the exact minute as possible.