Monday, April 14, 2014

In Defense of Commencement Speeches, Some of Them

I happen to love commencement speeches.  Okay, I happen to really love some - like this one from Jon Stewart.  But yes, I barely remember the one from my high school (it was a replacement speaker and yeah, not that exciting).  I do not recall the speech at either of my sibling's high school graduations.  I remember being at a friend's where the speaker - a politician no less - gave a speech that I swear seemed about to end no less than three times.  But I also remember some lovely ones from other public figures. 
My college one I have no recollection.  My brother's I remember not being terribly boring (but I was knitting in the large gymnasium, which might have helped). My sister's I do remember because the speaker handed out puzzle pieces and suggested we all re-gather in ten years and put the puzzle together.  (I do not think that gathering happened, but for all I know there's a partially assembled puzzle awaiting my piece somewhere in Chicago.)
So, in general I agree with the advice here, that people will more likely remember if you went on too long. But I think there are some that have demonstrated some humor, some humility, and some useful information.  One, I can never find with my google-fu talked about how often in life the pattern and plan is visible only looking back, which I find reassuring even to this day. 
So, there can be snippets of wisdom, amusement, or even just - hmm.  But brief is probably a great idea too.