Commencement Speeches – Too Little, Too Late

The Season of Graduation is upon us.

With it comes the various stories about what famous person gave a speech to the class of this year at some school.

Most of the speeches will be quite good, but unheard.

That is because they are given at the wrong time of an academic experience – the end.

Which is odd because they are routinely called Commencement speeches. Commence means to begin. Yes, I know you are quietly saying, “McFly…this marks the beginning of the rest of their lives…and that is why….”

All these great speeches given after all of the course selection, work, and examination?

Commencement speeches should be given at the beginning of the year, each year in fact, in order to inspire the very best academic effort.

Imagine a great pep talk at the end of the game. Hey Coach…could have used this inspiration before the game. Need to grab a shower now and meet up with my friends.

Best Example I can think of is the Freshman Dinner Speech from Chariots of Fire.

Year – 1919. After the Great War.

The headmaster of the school begins the white tie dinner –

“I take the war list and I run down it.

Name after name, which I cannot read and which we, who are older than you, cannot hear without emotion.

Names which will only be names to you, the new college. But which to us summon up face after face, full of honesty and goodness, zeal and vigour, and intellectual promise.

The flower of a generation. The glory of England, and they died for England, and all that England stands for.

And now by tragic necessity, their dreams have become yours.

Let me exhort you. Examine yourselves. Let each of you discover where your true chance of greatness lies.

For their sakes, for the sake of your college and your country, seize this chance.

Rejoice in it.

And let no power or persuasion deter you in your task.”

Now that’s a commencement speech.

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Chris Saxman

About Chris Saxman

Father of four, small business leader, retired politician, and Executive Committee member and former Chairman of an international trade association, Chris Saxman delivers strategy and insight as a political coach and keynote speaker. Contact Chris.

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