This is the time of year for college and university commencement speeches, and some of them (take, for example, Sheryl Sandberg's recent commencement address) are making big news.

On May 15, 2016, President Barack Obama gave the commencement speech for Rutgers University in New Jersey. His address was particularly well crafted, and there are a number of powerful lessons in making presentations--to a group of any size, in any situation--that can be learned from it.

1. Know your audience

It was clear that President Obama took some time to add some local flavor to his presentation--making it more meaningful to his audience. Said Obama, "So I'm here, off Exit 9, on the banks of the Old Raritan--at the site of one of the original nine colonial colleges. Winners of the first-ever college football game. One of the newest members of the Big Ten. Home of what I understand to be a Grease Truck for a Fat Sandwich. Mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers on your cheesesteaks. I'm sure Michelle would approve."

2. Be funny

Don't be boring--use humor as a tool to engage your audience from the start. President Obama used ample amounts of humor--especially at the front end of his presentation--to excellent effect. Here's the story he told about why he decided to accept the invitation to give the Rutgers commencement address: "The truth is, Rutgers, I came here because you asked. Now, it's true that a lot of schools invite me to their commencement every year. But you are the first to launch a three-year campaign. Emails, letters, tweets, YouTube videos. I even got three notes from the grandmother of your student body president. And I have to say that really sealed the deal. That was smart, because I have a soft spot for grandmas."

3. Be modest

Even the President of the United States knows he doesn't have to show off or wear his ego on his sleeve to impress his audience. Obama explained the impact of all his honorary degrees on his family: "One of the perks of my job is honorary degrees. But I have to tell you, it impresses nobody in my house. Now Malia and Sasha just say, 'Okay, Dr. Dad, we'll see you later. Can we have some money?'"

4. Inspire

Of course, one of the key jobs of being a commencement speaker is to inspire your audience of graduating students. There was no lack of inspiring words in Obama's speech, such as when he spoke about the place of Rutgers in the world: "This is a place where you 3-D-print prosthetic hands for children, and devise rooftop wind arrays that can power entire office buildings with clean, renewable energy. Every day, tens of thousands of students come here, to this intellectual melting pot, where ideas and cultures flow together among what might just be America's most diverse student body."

5. Take stock

It's always good to take some time to take stock of where the audience is at this point in time. "Fortunately, your generation has everything it takes to lead this country toward a brighter future. I'm confident that you can make the right choices--away from fear and division and paralysis, and toward cooperation and innovation and hope. Now, partly, I'm confident because, on average, you're smarter and better educated than my're not only better educated, you've been more exposed to the world, more exposed to other cultures. You're more diverse. You're more environmentally conscious. You have a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom."

6. Paint a vision of the future

Whether you're leading a business--or a nation--every audience wants to see a bright vision of the future, one that they will hopefully be a part of. Said Obama, "So don't lose hope if sometimes you hit a roadblock. Don't lose hope in the face of naysayers. And certainly don't let resistance make you cynical. Cynicism is so easy, and cynics don't accomplish much. As a friend of mine who happens to be from New Jersey, a guy named Bruce Springsteen, once sang--(applause)--'they spend their lives waiting for a moment that just don't come.' Don't let that be you. Don't waste your time waiting."

7. Close with an uplifting message

Truly great speakers close their presentations with an uplifting message. Said Obama at the end of his address, "And, Class of 2016, it is your turn now--to shape our nation's destiny, as well as your own. So get to work. Make sure the next 250 years are better than the last."