Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Get them Standing: Commencement Speeches 2010

As I looked through this year's commencement speeches, I came across this delightful opener. Hamid Mir addresses the graduates of the Kennedy School at Harvard and begins by asking everyone to get up and stretch. It's a simple, but brilliant idea that instantly raises the level of energy in the room.

At the end of his speech, Mir gets the audience on their feet again - this time for a standing ovation. While clearly the audience appreciates the speech itself, I believe that his opening stretch made it more likely for the audience to stand up at the end.


Anonymous said...

The stretch works because he introduces it artfully and participates in the exercise himself with humorous exaggeration. He also tells a funny self-mocking joke starting at around the 4:30 minute mark, and, in general, shows he can craft a good speech. Too bad the substance of his talk was a clever-sounding but intellectually vacuous paean to moral relativism.

Sarah Gershman said...

Great point. Had he merely asked the audience to stretch without joining in, the technique would have bombed. Thanks for stopping by!