Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Worst Commencement Speech Advice Ever

worst commencement speech ever graduation clothes

Another year of high school commencement ceremonies cometh and againth I was not asked to speak at any of them.

Graduates, count your blessings.
I say this because, unlike the school benefactors and politicians whose words you won't pay attention because of your preoccupation in learning the whereabouts of the nearest keg party, I would have brought to your lectern one vital thing: experience. (And also the knowledge that it's a lectern and NOT a podium, but that's another post.)
Experience gained not through the trials and tribulations of what hackneyed speakers refer to as “the real world.” No. I would have brought you the experience of a know-it-all teenager much like yourself. A parentally pampered smartass who gained his experience from once giving a completely forgettable address at his own high school graduation.
See, graduates, when I was your age, I was the salutatorian of my high school. I know Latin and peer competition are no longer part of your curricula, so let me explain what that means. “Salutatorian” comes from the Greek, meaning “4.0 student who goofed off by taking Intro of Fitted Sheet Folding rather than AP European History senior year.”

Can I get a “woot, woot” for senioritis!
My reward for being first-place loser: serving as the opening act for the kid who beat me in class ranking. I would stand before my peers, their parents and relatives and give the welcoming remarks while she did the closing speech.
And, graduates, did those remarks suck.
Well, I’m pretty sure they did. I burned the only copy of my speech some years ago because I couldn’t bear to look at its index-card awfulness. All I remember about my speech was:
1) It was bad enough in rehearsal that our principal asked me to rewrite it to not be so negative. Or did she say to not to be so sarcastic? I was 18, so probably both.
2) It quoted the Who’s Pete Townshend. I don’t know the exact quote but I’m positive, and thankful — though you may not be — that it was not “hope I die before I get old.”
My speech was bad enough that none of the local newspapers quoted from it the next day. And, believe you me, local newspapers will print anything.
The reporters did, however, praise our class valedictorian’s speech. Her inspiring address drew on the self-help, be your own person, power-of-positive-thinking teachings of Richard Bach’s classic fable “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.” Last I heard, those ideals have served her well as, 30 years later, our valedictorian is still outdoing me ... in both divorces and arrests.
So what exactly would I do to redeem myself if given the chance to speak before an audience of impressionable young minds eager to learn the whereabouts is the nearest illegal keg party? Offer some practical tips:
Never buy a trendy business management book. “The One-Minute Manager,” “The Six Sigma,” “Who Moved My Cheese Then Cut It?” — they all say the same things. Listen to people. Thank and reward those who do right. Get rid of those who don’t. Instead, write your own trendy management book and sell it to your classmates who didn’t pay attention to this speech.
Lawn care. Mostly avoid it. Hire someone to do it for you if you have the means because you’ll be stimulating the economy as well as your fescue. However, if you must do it yourself, then mow in the summer, rake in the fall, maybe do a little fertilizing before and after. That’s all. Rather than hand-pulling every little weed, revel in your yard’s celebration of diversity.
Use your fingers on something other than your smartphone. Try learning how to give a good massage. Your future spouse will thank you. And not by text.
Learn the “rule of threes.”
Finally, if you leave here remembering only one thing from this speech that will be one more than most of your classmates, especially those who already found the illegal keg party.
But if you do walk away with just one thing, let it be this: Take my advice — don’t listen to me.
-- A version of this was first ignored by readers of The Stamford Advocate. Photo: PublicDomainPicture.net


  1. You have outed yourself as a nerd. I got to speak at my college graduation but I have the advantage of being 20 years older than most of my classmates


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