Apply to be a Section Speaker
A student representative from each of the first year sections and one transfer student representative will be selected to give the student commencement speech for their section during the virtual graduation celebration on Sunday, May 23, 2021.
The speech is limited to 5 minutes, and the speaker will be selected by a small committee made up of faculty, staff, a student from each section, and the SBA President. There is no limit to the number of individuals from each section that can submit a video of their speech for consideration. The video is an audition designed to showcase the graduates’ speaking and presentation skills, so the speech in the video must be the speech that the graduate will give at the ceremony.
Applications are due Sunday, April 11th at 11:59 p.m.
Steps to Audition
Review the Public Speaking Suggestions and Video Upload Instructions, below.
- Submit the following on the Graduation Section Speaker Video Submission form: link to your video from YouTube, upload a 120 word bio, and the text of your speech.
- The Selection Committee will review your video and speech, making a selection in Late-April.
Rules and Suggestions
Every candidate MUST submit a video with closed captioning and copy of their speech, lasting no longer than 5 minutes. This works out to about two typed pages, double spaced. Remember, you will be speaking into a microphone, most likely at a slower rate than you would during regular conversation. You and your audience will also have just listened to one or more very lengthy speeches by other members of the Georgetown Law Community, so brevity will be very much appreciated. The content and form of the speech are completely up to you. The following are just suggestions – not requirements, and they are based upon speeches that have been selected in previous years.
- Keep the audience in mind. The bulk of the audience is not composed of classmates from your first year section or graduate division; it is the family and friends of your classmates.
- If the speech is too steeped in legal jargon and points of law, you will lose the bulk of your audience.
- Humor is nice, but you are not doing stand-up. Make sure there is some substance to what you say.
- Avoid inappropriate language or anything that could be offensive to your audience. Not everyone’s grandma appreciates a d-bag reference.
- A well-chosen anecdote from the first year usually goes over well, is generally appreciated and contributes to section identity. Remember to make it accessible to people who weren’t there.
- It is one thing to mention a significant person or two from your section for leadership or service, but don’t try to reference every single member of your section.
- A quote from Shakespeare is fine, but don’t go overboard and let him write half of your speech.
- Don’t write an entire speech that rhymes. Every year someone does this and the voters say, “Wasn’t that cute?” But unless you are Dr. Seuss, it does not work.
- On behalf of your section, thank those who helped you make it through the experience of law school. You did, after all, not make it alone. Challenge your classmates to use what they have learned to make the world a better place.
- PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE before you record.
- Okay, there is one more “rule” … if your speech is selected, a little tweaking is fine, but the speech you record is the speech you must present.
Video Upload Instructions
The video of you giving your graduation speech is an audition designed to showcase your speaking and presentation skills, so the speech in the video must be the speech that you will give at graduation. In order to be eligible to participate, your video must include closed captioning.
Submitting Your YouTube Video
- Upload your video to YouTube.
- Mark the privacy settings as “Unlisted,” so that only people with the link can see it.
- Add auto capture closed captioning, instructions here.
- Submit the YouTube link to the Graduation Section Speaker Video Submission form along with an upload of the text of your speech and your 120 word bio.
- Videos must be unedited. Georgetown Law will also not edit the video, so check for your own good sound quality on the video.
- State your name and section at the beginning of the video.
- Only one video can be submitted per participant.
- Speeches can only be made by individuals, not in pairs or groups.
- Videos MUST include closed captioning.
Here is a great example of a submission by Harry Koulos (Section 4, 2014).