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Graduation is an important time for your students. To ensure your graduates receive the most from their experience, learn how to plan a memorable commencement to reward their hard work.

How to Prepare for a Graduation Ceremony

A university commencement ceremony is a wonderful celebration of the hard work your graduates have done to earn their degrees. But if your graduation day has become the run-of-the-mill ceremony everyone expects, it’s time to switch things up.

Figuring out how to plan a graduation ceremony that accommodates many people may be challenging, but that’s okay. To help encourage your graduating class to participate in commencement, start by planning a graduation ceremony that’s inclusive, engaging, and, most importantly, one that will leave your grads feeling proud of their alma mater.

We’ve created a list of six tips to help event coordinators spice up their graduation ceremony for the Class of 2023 and beyond.

1. Consider Your Graduation Audience

The first thing you should consider in planning a graduation event is your graduation audience. While lots of schools think about their audience from a logistical point of view, like the size of their graduating class and their anticipated number of guests, there’s much more to consider.

Setting aside time to recognize your grads and their friends and family who helped encourage them along their educational journey is important. Not only is it a respectful gesture, but it also helps keep your entire graduation audience engaged with the ceremony.

Finally, being considerate of your audience extends to other graduation elements surrounding accessibility. Set up a jumbo screen with captions to give greater visibility to each graduate as they walk across the stage. And for guests who may be hard of hearing, hiring a sign language interpreter is a good idea.

2. Include a Live Broadcast

Even as graduation ceremonies move from a hybrid-style celebration back to in-person commencement, you should still provide a live broadcast option. This way, your school can avoid the capacity limitations of in-person events and your grads will be able to celebrate their special occasion with more people.

Technology can be fickle, so plan well in advance to ensure your livestream runs smoothly with the following tips:

  • Check that your internet connection is strong and reliable. Use a wired connection, as your guests will likely drag the Wi-Fi bandwidth down.
  • Secure and test the necessary tech equipment, like speakers, projectors, computers, LCD panels, and microphones.
  • Collaborate with your institution’s broadcasting department or mass media degree program. If you don’t have either, partner with a reputable livestream vendor.
  • Make sure you have a dedicated team to assist with the livestream and that everyone knows their roles.
  • Perform a mock livestream test a day or two before the ceremony.
  • Include your livestream team in your planning from the first meeting to the final debriefing. This will prevent surprise tech issues and increase the chances that your ceremony will go smoothly.

3. Send Out Invitations as Far in Advance as You Can

For grads, a large part of the excitement is ordering their caps and gowns, sending graduation announcements to family and friends, and marking the date in their calendars.

To make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible, supply impending grads with invitations to send to their loved ones as soon as possible. This way, you’ll increase the number of people expected to attend the ceremony and give your grads plenty of time to plan for the event.

Schools should also consider how they can help students tap into more creative outlets as they celebrate graduation. Consider creating a theme for your graduating class and incorporate related designs in the invitations. You could also encourage grads to decorate their graduation caps to better show off their accomplishments on the big day.

Looking for more ways to improve your commencement experience with grads and their guests? Enhance your grad experience in three simple steps with meaningful graduation videos.

4. Keep Your Speech Short

The honorary commencement speech is the heart of the graduation ceremony, but don’t let it interrupt the flow of everyone’s big day. While your speaker will no doubt deliver gems of advice for life after graduation, make sure your audience doesn’t lose their focus with a long-winded message.

Let your speaker know in advance that they can succinctly deliver a powerful statement that resonates with your grads and their family. Remind them that while their achievements are great—and, if they’re an alum, it’s even more of a testament to their education— the focus should be on the graduates. Encourage them to get as creative as possible with their messaging and, if necessary, even rile up the new graduates with a greater sense of pride for their school.

5. Welcome Your Grads to Alumni-Hood

Get your graduates thinking about their post-graduate life with a commencement section welcoming them as new alumni. Invite notable alumni to the ceremony to stand as an example of former students who’ve gained personal and professional success because of their education.

Take this time to inform students of the perks and benefits they’re now entitled to as alumni. Distribute alumni surveys that give your grads the opportunity to answer questions about their university experience and encourage them to share their future plans with your school. You should also take a few minutes to offer statistics on the average success rates of alums who graduated from your school, how many are in the workforce in your city, etc.

6. Send Your Grads off With a Special Token of Appreciation

Before your degree recipients turn their tassels, toss their caps in the air, and head to their graduation party, don’t let your graduation ceremony end without giving them some special token of appreciation as a final “thank you” for choosing your institution.

Your appreciation gift can be anything from a special plaque, degree folder, or a free discount on a popular service. Even better, consider providing something your graduates can hold on to and repeatedly relive, like personalized video reels from their big day.

Your Partner for Personalized Graduation Clips

With StageClip, you can help your graduates and their loved ones experience the highlights of their commencement ceremony with personalized graduation clips.

We understand that keeping alumni engaged is never as easy as on graduation day, so we simplify the process for schools by integrating alumni surveys into our professional graduation videos. Your school gets a boost in alumni engagement, and your grads get to make memories that last a lifetime.

Are you ready to enrich your graduation ceremony experience and boost your alumni engagement strategy? Partner with us today for personalized graduation clips.

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