Just after I wrote the piece for last week’s blog, I got a call from the local high school principal. No, not because of my use of fractured syntax, or beginning a sentence with a preposition, but rather he had a proposition. He called to offer me a spot on the program of graduation, he asked me to be the guest speaker at this year’s graduation.
It will be the 40th anniversary of our class’s big day, and it is the school that both of my children attended, so my only option was to accept. That is when the difficult part started; I had just written a piece on defining your target audience and now I was having trouble deciding who my audience is.
Is it the graduates? They make up a small part of the assembly, but it is their day. No speaker is naive enough to believe they are going to listen to his message, their thoughts are far from absorbing the nuggets of knowledge that some old guy is spewing forth and for the most part view as a necessary delay before the evening festivities.
Is it the parents? Who have put so much into getting their kids to this point? They are most likely too full of satisfaction on this day to cram another bit of information into their very being.
Is it the rest of the assembly? Teachers, uncles, aunts, and well wishers, who spend more time looking at their watches than the previous two groups combined. They know they didn’t have to be there and are wondering why they said yes, to giving up two hours of their life they will never recover. I considered placing myself in this group.
I thought about our 25 year reunion, when not a single soul could name the guest speaker at our grad, and only one person could name the class valedictorian, and yes that was the valedictorian himself.
I considered being entertaining, not trying to weave in a message and gave up on that, if you are not going to be absolutely hilarious don’t go the humour route. I thought about doing the talk about this is a generation that has not been without cell phones or the internet, but the parents know that and the kids don’t care. Most of them will be texting while they have to listen to me.
Suddenly it became clear, my job is to address the class, and ask them to take us with them into the future, because where they are going, and we could easily be left behind.