It was a busy June. As detailed in our previous blog post, I both spoke at my high school’s graduation ceremony and then a few days later I watched my own sister earn her MLIS. Giving a speech is hard, and especially when it needs to be as close to exactly 90 seconds long as possible. It’s a neat thing about where I work; graduating seniors select a teacher they want to speak on their behalf and that is the bulk of events. The ceremony always starts with some words from the principal, following which teachers share anecdotes about the students on stage with them, giving each individual a true moment to shine. And this year I kicked it all off.
Other teachers joked about the “honor.” It only came about, however, because one of the students I spoke for was alphabetically first. That made me a bit nervous, but things went well, and I also had a second student about halfway down the pack. Now let me tell you, saying something meaningful, and in just 90 seconds, is TOUGH. It is very fair to say I spent more than 90 minutes on figuring out what I wanted to say—it took weeks of drafting, practicing, re-writing, etc. But I ended up being very happy with both speeches, and this new chance to stand behind a podium at graduation ended up being a lot of fun.
“New chance?” you may ask. “Then what happened before?” Well let me tell you! Once upon a time I myself was senior class co-valedictorian (since a few of us had the exact same GPA—for whatever reason my school didn’t do AP courses). As a result, six of us ended up giving speeches, and this made up the core of our high school graduation ceremony. Before standing up in the gymnasium that day I was the most nervous I had ever been in my entire life. And as a result, I never noticed the lady in the audience who passed out, started convulsing, and then vomited all over the first few rows of families. Apparently while I was talking paramedics came in and took the poor woman away on a gurney, and again, I didn’t see it at all.
“You really kept your composure through all of that!” they all told me after. Honestly, until my parents mentioned the events I thought people were trying to pull a joke. And though I wish I could blame circumstances, I don’t think my speech back then was very good (also, I really hope that woman was OK). This time around, however, I can tell you I’m a less nervous orator, and no one was hurt while I talked. And now fast-forward to a few weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun to see a professional—this time one of the founders of Snapchat—give a speech at the University of Denver where my sister earned her Master’s. And that, in a nutshell, was everything related to speeches that occurred in June— and in the past. Hope you enjoyed!
–Jeff and Leah