The languid stretch between spring and summer is a time for lemonade on porch swings, rigorous cleaning rituals that may or may not involve Pine-Sol-drenched toothbrushes, and big-ass speeches. This last bit used to be a major part of my livelihood, and there was something both exhilarating and mundane about the onslaught of commencement speeches, wedding toasts and even roasts that crossed my desk. It was always great to have so many writing gigs pile up that presented me with an opportunity to put words into strangers mouths as their ghost speechwriter, but after penning words for just a few commencements and rehearsal dinners all the sentiments tended to sound the same; that is, until I realized the secret behind writing good speeches. Wanna know it? Fine, I’ll tell you: the key to a good speech is saying something. In other words, I realized that I had to find out one specific thing that my speaker really cared about and write a speech about that. The more I went to town by providing snippets of lesser-known factoids and shots of inspiration the better, because it turns out audiences really like listening to people with a specific mission and passion. If someone is too dogmatic in their speaking that can be a problem, but I’d rather listen to a minister than a weatherman any day, wouldn’t you?
The funny thing about this concept is that it applies to almost any art form: when in doubt of what to create, just say something that matters to you. All art, love, work and bread goes stale at some point, after all, so it’s up to us to revitalize our crafts/partnerships/bread machines and discover something about them that makes us passionate again. If we dare to make statements of passion, we may fall flat on our faces sometimes, but we won’t put people to sleep – because, let’s face it, a face plant is always funny – and that in itself is not too shabby. So, say something. And mean it. And, by gosh-golly, say it today.