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asleepGraduation Ceremonies: Make them Inspiring

I recently attended a Leaving Certificate graduation ceremony for my son, Cillian. It’s a Catholic school so they decided to have a mass, which, I suppose, is understandable. And some music.  About 12 separate pieces actually. Then some speeches.  The Headmaster. The Year Head. The Head Boy. The Head of the Past Pupils Association. At that stage I was ‘losing the head’ along with the will to live. About 2.5 hours into the ceremony, in a supreme effort to stay awake, I seriously contemplated removing my Gall Bladder sans anesthetic or even a hint of medical training. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate the sharp nail scissors in my inside pocket as it had been forcibly removed at Dublin Airport.  3 hours later, we fell out of the place asking the killer question:  “When exactly did celebration morph into torture?” On a more positive note, it did answer a lifelong question: So, that’s why they call it a ‘passing out’ parade in the army! It brought me back to an earlier experience…

Events Night:

The invitation card, which popped through the letterbox, was beautifully packaged. A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) awards night at the Crown Plaza Hotel, in Santry. I liked the topic and the Northside venue, so was more than happy to tag along for my 3 favourite things. A glass of red, a bit of hand shaking, a sliver of small talk.


I seriously contemplated removing my Gall Bladder sans anesthetic or even a hint of medical training.!

Standard Videos:

To showcase the work of the nominees, a ‘communications company’ had put the DVD’s together.  Maybe they were under cost or time pressure but using identical graphics and music for each clip didn’t inspire confidence. The first 3 examples were fascinating. The next 3 were interesting. Clips 6 to 9 were watchable. The next 24 nominations (yes, incredibly, 33 individual clips were shown) were mind-numbingly boring.  It was time for a quick consultants prayer: “Dear Lord Jesus, who’s in charge of this? They will not be spared from the wrath of an ever-vigilant blogger looking for Monday morning material. Amen.”

Another Idea:  

I’m guessing that the same genius that thought viewing 33 DVD’s would be a delight, also came up with the BIG idea that there is absolutely no need to have 1 MC when you can substitute 3. Each time a new MC ‘took over’ they launched into a personal appraisal of CSR and how important it is. Note to the MC’s: That’s why the audience was there; as far as I know, attendance on the night was voluntary. At that point I was clapping like a frenzied Chimpanzee after every speech, just to keep my circulation going. I went to the toilets so often, someone probably suspected Irritable Bowel Syndrome or a cocaine addiction but it’s not easy to raise either topic in polite company.

Taking Action:  

When Lech Walesa addressed the USA Congress he made the point that the world market for words is saturated. Now, admittedly, he was speaking in a different context – pushing world leaders to ‘take action’. Well, we could have done with Lech that evening in Santry. As a former electrician, he could have figured out how to pull the plug on those brutal DVD’s. If I’d had an AK47 in the boot of the car, I just might have taken action myself.  Target #1 would have been taking out the MC’s, issuing a strong demand that they receive ‘re-education’ in rural Roscommon before being allowed anywhere near a microphone in the future.  Note: Key public-speaking point: Try not to repeat what someone else has said earlier. Like Cinderella, I left the function just before midnight. In fairness, the nominations were coming close to the end at that point so I didn’t miss all that much.

Event Design:

When you design your next event, just remember that less is more.  Less = it will cost less, run ahead of schedule (less time) and the audience will love you (more) for it. What’s not to like about this? Having a ‘Noble’ topic doesn’t give you a license to bore the audience. By the way, I’m currently checking out some very interesting second-hand military hardware on the web and looking for opportunities to practice.  Please invite me to your next awards ceremony.