Recently, I attended a high school graduation. Many of the graduates were giddy with anticipation about the speeches that were scheduled. The students weren’t excited about how wonderful the speeches might be. Rather, they were playing a secret bingo game.
The proverbial winner was the audience member who could mentally cross off enough buzzwords or overused terms during the presentations to win the game.
I was familiar with the concept, because I knew about “corporate buzzword bingo” games during my days in corporations. Employees would anticipate terms like “low-hanging fruit” and “having a dialogue” and “sense of urgency.” Sadly, we knew exactly what to expect when someone stepped up to the podium.
The graduation bingo game happened for the same reason. Students were expecting some speakers to include boring, predictable elements and terms that are often used in graduation speeches. Here are some examples of what students used for their virtual bingo card squares:
- Reference to 2020 as “unprecedented” (this one was the center square)
- A dictionary definition
- Famous quotes
- “It’s been a crazy year”
- Reference to homework
- Inside jokes
- Reading a poem
- The idea that “this is not the end, it’s the beginning”
- Acknowledgement of “each and every one of you.”
Students would snicker and laugh silently whenever one of these elements popped up in a speech. While I Need A Speaker never advocates finding fault with speakers, the fact that the bingo game occurred should be considered a warning to anyone who has a speech to deliver.
The warning is this: Don’t be predictable. Don’t be boring. Don’t say what’s expected. Don’t say what every other speaker says.
Flip that to the positive side, and the lessons here are:
- Be original.
- Be engaging.
- Be clever.
- Be unique.
- Be attention-grabbing.
- Be dynamic.
In short … be effective.
Photo credit: DepositPhotos