The Commencement Address – Part Two

Also known as the valedictorian. That speech the class president delivers at the graduation ceremony. The one that you’ll never forget if you are unlucky. Here’s the secrets…

a. It is better to scare ’em shitless than bore ’em witless.

This concept was developed by the priesthood and refined by the military. In the case of the RAF and USAAF bomber commands they could do it to a ready-room full of aircrew by drawing back a curtain to show the target maps. There were no casual observers…

Be careful how far you terrorise your audience. It’s probably not a good thing to have them void their bowels or run screaming from the room.

b. Write out what you are going to say beforehand.

If you are Abraham Lincoln you can do it on the back of an envelope. Most of you are not Lincoln. Write it out on a computer and then write yourself paper script.

c. Read that script beforehand.

As many times as it takes to commit it to memory. If this seems boring, remember that a mental blank when speaking will damage you in the minds of whoever observes it to such an extent that you may never regain their respect. As harsh as this seems, it is true.

d. Do not read from that script while you are speaking.

Even if you find that you HAVE forgotten what it was you were going to say, do not dive into the notes and start reading what you wrote aloud. Most especially, NEVER read from a powerpoint or other computer display on a screen. The audience can see the words and if you repeat them from that screen they will hate you forever.

e. Tell a story.

Once Upon A Time will nail every ear on the planet. In some cases to a plank.

We all loved tales as children. Many voters still do, particularly if they are promised cake, ice cream, and a government subsidy. Don’t make a speech – tell a tale – you’ll get far more attention that way.

f. Have them find you witty, but be surprised by the fact.

Write, or pay for the writing of, the best of thoughts. Polish the phrases and practice the timing. Study the inflections and nuances. Assess the audience to a hair.

And never let them know that you have done so.

Tomorrow: How to condemn the prisoner.

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