Category Archives: speechwriting

Don’t tell me what statistics say. Show me.

Each grain of rice represents a person

There is fascinating exhibit in the foyer of the Kennedy Center which uses individual grains of rice to demonstrate the significance of statistics. Each grain of rice represents a person. The pile in the foreground  of this photo I took represents the number of people in the U.S. who commute to work between midnight and 5:59 a.m.

The reason this is such effective communication is because it shows viewers exactly what the statistics mean. Too often as communicators, we forget about the visual learners among us. We also tend to numb our audiences with numbers. Think about that the next time you put together a presentation or you write a speech. Helping your audience understand a statistic can be as simple as a grain of rice.

The exhibit, called “Of All the People in the World,” is part of “On the Fringe: Eye on Edinburgh”, a festival going on at the Kennedy Center which shows off some of the best performances from Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival.

Check it out if you find yourself in Washington, D.C.

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Desmond Tutu and the Art of the Commencement Speech

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu delivered the commencement address this year for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu delivered the commencement address this year for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Image credit: UNC News Services.

Graduation season is in full swing.

I love this time of year, because it’s a time of celebration for families. Graduates from high schools, colleges, graduate schools and professional schools seldom make it to their commence ceremonies on their own. They are there because of their own hard work, yes, but they are also there because someone special in their life supported them. Whether financially, emotionally, spiritually — most people are graduating because someone has been supporting them, indeed rooting for them, for many years.

As for the graduation ceremonies, I generally loathe them. These occasions are usually entirely too long and there are too many speeches from people who have nothing worthwhile to say. Continue reading