Amy Poehler’s Harvard 2011 Commencement Speech

By Andrew Ivey | Public Speaking

Jun 01

When the Harvard class of 2011 decided to invite Amy Poehler to give the Commencement speech at their graduation ceremony they no doubt expected a string of jokes from the eminent comic.

And they certainly got that:

…someone gave you strength, held you in the palm of their hand…God, Allah, Buddha, GaGa.

But they also got a wealth of advice about their future. A set of invaluable life lessons learned the hard way by Amy, a graduate of Boston College.

This was a well-delivered 15 minute speech with a good script. Her speech made the good tips that much more palatable than many commencement speeches.

Once in a while, put your iPhones down and look into someone’s face. People’s faces will tell you amazing things. Like if they are angry, or nauseous…or asleep.

Her speech advised graduates to take risks when young, as it gets more difficult with age:

I hurt my knee on the treadmill this week…and it wasn’t even on.

Her timing was flawless as the speech led to its conclusion:

Which leads me to my final thought. Would it kill you to be nice to your parents?

And then the final words…

I thank you for asking me to speak to you today, as you head out into the world. I wish you love and light, joy and much laughter. And as always, please don’t forget to tip the waitresses.

A superb commencement speech for the Harvard class of 2011.

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About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+