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    RandomPerson36's Avatar
    RandomPerson36 Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    May 16, 2019, 07:05 PM
    Writing a high school graduation speech: is audience participation a good idea?
    Hello everyone,

    I'm a senior in high school and am about to graduate in about a week. Since I'm salutatorian, I have to write a speech for the ceremony and speak to a decently large crowd of ~600 graduating seniors, a band, lots of teachers and school faculty, and literally thousands of friends, parents, and other families.

    In an effort to make my speech unique and liven things up a bit, I included a short segment in my speech where the audience can participate in what I say by raising their hands in agreeance to the big idea of trying being nicer in the future. I was thinking this would be cool since usually, people zone-out at these type of ceremonies, and by participating in something, it may grab their attention and keep them listening to the very end.

    However, I'm still unsure about it and have a few worries. This is my first time writing a major speech like this, so I have no idea if this type of strategy is even appropriate or a good idea in the first place. Would if the crowd gets confused and doesn't participate, or they simply refuse to raise their hands and make me look wrong and awkward?

    It would greatly be appreciated if someone could give me their input on this, especially if they've done something like this before and have experience on how audiences react. Thank you!
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,810, Reputation: 5427
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    #2

    May 16, 2019, 07:18 PM
    I'm all for audience participation to keep them awake during long ceremonies. In fact, I would start out with audience participation (hand raising, clapping, shouting a word at the count of three, etc.) to immediately engage them and maybe do it at least once, even twice, more (at the end?), depending on the length of your speech. Each time should blend in with the speech and keep the audience on their toes and listening. Also, I'd keep the speech fairly short.

    Were you given any guidelines and told a desired length? Is there a faculty member or administrator you can talk with about this?
    RandomPerson36's Avatar
    RandomPerson36 Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    May 16, 2019, 07:38 PM
    Thank you so much for such a quick response, I'll try to use those ideas! And no, I wasn't given any help or criteria for my speech and had to google and research what to write myself. The only faculty member that has even talked to me about my speech was a counselor, who asked for it with only a 2-day notice and didn't even mention beforehand what she was looking for or what to do. I've tried to talk to my past English teachers about my speech and get their feedback, but they haven't been to my school's graduation ceremonies before and honestly, don't know what's expected either. At this point, I'm just trying to get as much input as possible, even if it's from other students and what they're expecting to hear.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,810, Reputation: 5427
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    #4

    May 16, 2019, 07:40 PM
    What's the general idea of your speech? When is graduation?
    RandomPerson36's Avatar
    RandomPerson36 Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    May 16, 2019, 07:45 PM
    Graduation is on May 25th, and I decided to make my speech about the future and what we all (my class) should do to have success in our lives (persevere, work hard, be kind, etc.)
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,810, Reputation: 5427
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    #6

    May 16, 2019, 08:58 PM
    Have you written it yet? Made notes? Does anyone have to approve it?
    RandomPerson36's Avatar
    RandomPerson36 Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    May 16, 2019, 09:28 PM
    Ya Iíve written it and had to turn it in today, but I still need to practice saying it and time it to make sure it isnít too long or too short. And apparently the counselor said she was going to show it to the principal, so I guess Iíll see how that goes later.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,810, Reputation: 5427
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    #8

    May 17, 2019, 09:21 AM
    Be sure to let us know! Wish I could be there to hear this speech!
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,292, Reputation: 7691
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    #9

    May 17, 2019, 11:43 AM
    I guess i will be the negative one here. The speech in and of itself is short, Most people there will not even being paying attention.
    Most are there for their family member and in 10 years no one will even remember who gave the speech.
    Keep it simple, keep it short in the time given. And don't expect too much or you may be upset that no one is "participating"
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,810, Reputation: 5427
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    #10

    May 17, 2019, 12:07 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Fr_Chuck View Post
    I guess i will be the negative one here. The speech in and of itself is short, Most people there will not even being paying attention.
    Most are there for their family member and in 10 years no one will even remember who gave the speech.
    Keep it simple, keep it short in the time given. And don't expect too much or you may be upset that no one is "participating"
    I totally disagree. Yes, keep it short, but adding some appropriate quick and jubilant audience-participation comments or questions will definitely make this speech memorable. Consider the pols who give mind-numbing speeches vs. the ones who give vibrant speeches. Even Mr. Trump himself is great at connecting with his audience by getting immediate feedback from them.
    Athos's Avatar
    Athos Posts: 490, Reputation: 53
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    #11

    May 17, 2019, 12:42 PM
    To RandomPerson36

    I can't believe you got such bad advice from Chuck. Based on your posts I think you're going to do very well. Audience participation, a brief joke bringing a smile, and the content of your speech seem most appropriate. It doesn't matter what people will think ten years from now. The speech is now.

    Many years ago, a tall gangly fellow gave a brief speech after others gave lengthy orations. He said "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here...".

    160 years later, that speech by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg is still studied as a classic way to give a speech. He spoke from the heart. You should do the same and not worry too much about the mechanics.

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