My Graduation SpeechPosted: May 14, 2013
It is college graduation season. On a local radio news show, they mentioned some speakers who were giving graduates their send off speech. Traditionally, politicians would have littered any list of graduation speakers. The list I heard was trending away from the political realm. Among the speakers mentioned were a retired NFL kicker and Darius Rucker, the singer from the band Hootie and the Blowfish.
I like Rucker. He comes across as a personable guy and he co-wrote “Only Wanna Be With You.” He and Hootie also recorded an absolutely wicked version of the Bill Withers hit “Use Me.” I would invite Darius to speak based solely on how hard he rocked “Use Me.”
But the bigger news is that if singers and NFL kickers have wrested control of the graduation speaker market from politicians, it is only a matter of time until obscure bloggers are holding forth before graduates. Once obscure bloggers get their chance, it is a short drop to me.
Public speaking is fun, but I like being ready before I do it. So I have gotten a graduation speech ready. If someone named Dean or Chancellor calls and inquires as to my availability, I will be able to respond that my calendar is clear and my address is ready.
Here is what I’ve got…
Friends, Romans, Countrymen…
Chancellor, Dean, Chancellor Dean, Dean Chancellor, Guests, Family, and Graduates of the Class of Insert Year Here.
I’m honored to stand before you today. So much so, that I went and bought big boy clothes. Seriously, head to toe, new clothes. I’m not usually a dress up guy, but when in Rome or insert college town, do as the Romans or insert school athletic team nickname here do, right?
After being asked to speak, I took the liberty of reading a few issues of The insert campus newspaper name here. Apparently there was some controversy over my selection. There were a lot of comments in that fish-wrap like “who is he and why do I care what he has to say?” Those comments brought me to the theme of my talk – “Be Quiet”.
You’re all here to celebrate an achievement. Pat yourselves on the back. I’ll be quiet and wait while you do.
Congrats to you. Welcome to the real world. We’ve been waiting for you. Some of you took a year or two longer, but as a member of the five-year club, I give a special welcome to those who took their time and did it right.
A moment ago, you patted yourself on the back. Make that the last time you do that in public for a long time. You’ve completed your education, but learning begins here. The world is a vast classroom. Time spent patting yourself on the back is learning time lost. Be quiet, listen to the lessons of the world, or risk being run over by them.
You’ve learned much over the past 4,5,6 or, dare I say, 7 years. There is someone out there in the classroom of the world who knows how your knowledge fits in to what you’re meant to do. That sort of someone doesn’t bother talking over you when you’re busy talking about how bright you are; they move on to someone else. Be quiet. Hear those folks as they enter your life. Be quietly thankful and they will stay.
I pray that you all find the things that you’re good at and that fulfill you, work-wise. When you find them, go do those things. Be good. Be the best, better than anyone ever has been. Be quiet.
You see, being the best you can be speaks for itself. If you must boast about your skills or anything else, you’re likely not as gifted as you think. Be quiet. Let your work do the talking. It will say just what you allow it to.
When you enter a room, be quiet. Take in the greetings of your friends, return them in kind. People enjoy someone they can like for being themselves more than they like an entertainer.
Now, I’m a big fan of being quiet. That doesn’t mean it is always appropriate. You’re going to need a job. Someone will want to interview you. You’re going to have to sell yourself to them. Maybe you should get a book about job interviews. Be quiet, and try not to move your lips when you read that book. Whatever you do, don’t be quiet in your interview.
More importantly, don’t be quiet with those you love. Start that now, by thanking your parents and everyone who helped you get here in your robes and funny hats. I’ll be quiet and wait while you do.
Alright, that’s enough. Be quiet and let me finish. I know those robes are a bit warm and some of you are itching to get to a kegger or something.
Thanks for being quiet and hearing what I had to say. Go be what you always wanted, try hard to be that in just the way you envisioned. Be happy, be exhausted, be exhilarated, be disappointed. Take a minute at the end of every day to be quiet and thankful.
You’ll be fine.
So, There You Have It
I’m hanging out my shingle as a graduation speaker. Ms. Chancellor, Mr. Dean, feel free to get in touch. In fact, since I’m somewhat new to the business, I’m not above taking a call from Mr. or Ms. Principal.
We will be able to work out the particulars. Yes, Darius Rucker is out there. I suppose he is pretty good. But I don’t carry all that baggage that comes with being “known” and neither does my price. Call me.