Friday, 20 May, 2005
The staff at the Marine Military Academy paid me a great compliment by asking me to speak at the graduation dinner and present a few awards to the graduating cadets. In a classic case of misjudging my audience, I prepared a 10-minute mostly serious speech--the kind of stuffy thing that you've come to expect from graduation ceremonies. But after talking to a couple of people at the school this afternoon, I realized that what I presented would not have been well received. The graduation dinner is supposed to be a lighthearted affair, and comments should be short. I went back to the hotel and re-worked my presentation, cutting it in half and lightening it up.
By all indications, my talk was a hit. I kept the comments short and even got some genuine laughs at my jokes about life at the school. Graduating cadets and parents alike thanked me after the dinner; for the brevity and for the more serious remarks I made. I'm not ready to start a business as a motivational speaker, but I think I have the confidence now to speak intelligently to a group of high school students. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to be invited to speak again to the cadets at some point.