In law school, Federal Communications Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy spoke. She had a connection, being an alumna of the law school. Again, can't remember a thing she said.
Tom Dunkel of the Baltimore Sun has a lengthy article about commencement speakers.
What is needed is a guide for speakers. So here is mine:
- Make it short. If you can't say something in seven to ten minutes, you won't say anything in twenty. The cerermonies are long enough without so much hot air.
- If you are not funny, don't try to be funny. It is transparent and annoying.
- If you are a politician, don't talk politics. Chances are a good number of people in the audience don't like your politics and why ruin their day
- If you are not a politician, don't talk politics. See above for rationale.
- Don't patronize either. We all know the students worked hard, obstensibly, and we all know their families love them--you don't need to mention it.
- If you can't think of anything to say, if you need suggestions, see below
Good Day. Thank you for inviting me, it is a pleasure.If you take your time, you might get two minutes out of that speech, including applause time. You will also get a great many thank yous for not wasting people's time.
Too many times people will get up here in this position and blab on and on for 10, 15, or 20 minutes and you won't remember a thing we say--and why should you. So I am not going to be that person.
Here is my three pieces of advice for you as you leave this school.
1. Always work hard, no matter what you assignment is, do it to the best of your ability. In the end, hard work is recognized and rewarded.
2. Never compromise your principals. More people get in trouble in their lives when the compromise who they are or what they believe for some short term gain. The short term may be beneficial in some small way, but the long term damage is not worth it.
3. Find and hold close those dear friends, the people who will stand next to you or carry you when you need it most. Aside from family, who you can't choose, your true friends will never abandon you and everyone needs that love.
That is it. Any other advice would be too specific to some people and of no use. Other advice that people may give you will no doubt help, but that is my advice to a sea of graduates.
So on this day, when so many things will be said, I have said my piece.
One last thing though, when you are out celebrating tonight, be careful, be safe and have fun. This is a rare day and should be celebrated.
Congratulations, have fun tonight and oh, yeah--Get to work.