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Thursday, June 09, 2005


Why does everyone who puts together a seating plan and a rubber chicken assume that people want to listen to speeches?? If I get all the pieces in place in order to get dressed up and go out somewhere with my wife, I'd much rather speak to her or the people we're sitting with than listen to someone drone on and on from a podium.

I went to a school dinner this weekend (paid good money too) and sat through about 6 speeches before I finally had enough and got up to leave. Each speaker said the same thing when he started: "I'm not going to speak as long as the last guy." But then went on to exceed the length of the previous speaker.

Last night I went to my son's 8th grade graduation (Mazel Tov) and sat through two hours of non-stop speeches. Around speech #11 I turned to the guy next to me and said facetiously, "You know what would be great right now? Another speech!" Guess what?

I didn't speak at either of my sons' Bar Mitzvahs. I may have spoken for about 30 seconds at one of their circumcisions to explain the name. I don't recall speaking at my wedding, but I don't remember much about that night...

I understand that it's probably necessary to have some speaking at public events, especially fundraisers, where you have to talk up the honorees or the school or the cause. That's fine. But how about some courtesy to the patrons? Do people think we really want to sit through 12 speeches at an 8th grade graduation? How about this:

1. Limit the number of speakers. In cases where there are a lot of deserving people, try to make them understand that there will be an arbitrary cut off and it's nothing personal. If 3 people are getting the same award, select one to speak for the group.

2. Set a time limit for speeches--and here's the important part--enforce it! Start playing the music from the Academy Awards or get some big guy to yank the offender off-stage. Or better yet, charge them money for overtime.

3. Use more multimedia! A good 10 minute video or slide presentation (the keyword here is good) is worth an hour of pedantic speeches.

4. Give your guests time to socialize. I see these people only in shul or not at all. I don't shmooze in shul. Give us a chance to find out about each other a little.

Note: This rant is by no means to be construed as an indication that I am in any way interested in planning or running these events (got that, Big Wig?).

1 comment:

PsychoToddler said...

I have seen no greater medium abused than Power Point.
velvel | Homepage | 06.09.05 - 11:56 am | #


i think these 4 rules should be ammended to dale carnegie's famous book. at my brother's wedding i kept the toast to about 1 and 1/2 minutes - partly b/c i believe the same as you, mostly b/c i was nervous as hell.
charles | Homepage | 06.09.05 - 12:03 pm | #


I think speeches should be replaced with dancing girls or really good comedians.

Aren't you glad I'm on the shul fundraising committee?
Mirty | Homepage | 06.09.05 - 12:36 pm | #


thumbs up! I totally agree.
Essie | 06.09.05 - 12:37 pm | #


So many people just like to hear themselves talk. It is totally annoying.
Stacey | Homepage | 06.09.05 - 1:20 pm | #


My pet peeve is a speaker who says "I'll be brief". If they really will be, we'll find out when they sit down. And if not, why lie to us?

Graduations are a really sticky point. My daughter graduates in a couple of weeks. (Also 8th grade) and, like my high school and college graduation, one or two students speak to represent the whole class (it's still a 2 hr event). But if there are only a dozen or so graduates, don't each family deserve the nachas of seeing their kid at the podium?

PS. You did not speak at your wedding, but I have photographic evidence that you did sing... remember which song?
tuesdaywishes | 06.09.05 - 1:44 pm | #


At our shul dinner they have done away with speeches for the most part and have opted for a video presentation. I was quite impressed with the quality and had plenty of laughs to boot. If it's done right it can be very entertaining.
Jewish Blogmiester | Homepage | 06.09.05 - 3:35 pm | #


A few years back they honored the Rabbi emeritus at our shul with a big fundraiser. Some other Rabbi got up and began speaking, and speaking and speaking.....Finally, the executive director got up and shut off the microphone and escorted the man off the dais (very politely, I should add). It was priceless.
I have recently been thinking that fund-raising dinners should be done away with altogether and replaced with fun events, like a barbeque or a party at the pier. Who's with me?
ball-and-chain | 06.09.05 - 4:32 pm | #


I must add a few details.
We blew off the shmorg, but it was like pita chips and veggies and chumus, etc.

There was no soup.

The chicken was a stuffed chicken breast, chopped open and some pea pods and baby carrots were put in the middle of the chop. The incision was not closed. There may or may not have been some mushroom sauce under the chicken. the side dish was boiled red potatoes.

What I want to know is how much would the dinner be if they served a kugel or knish? Is this a Jewish dinner or not. How about some Kishke for crying out loud.

Thank you, I'm over it now.
altered mental status | Homepage | 06.09.05 - 11:24 pm | #


You don't like it? There's the door!
psychotoddler | Homepage | 06.10.05 - 10:39 am | #


I'll be brief...haha, I can't agree with you more P.T. Is anyone really listening?
Wickwire | Homepage | 06.10.05 - 12:53 pm | #


It's funny, Wick. At one point during the dinner, I must have totally tuned out. I heard this guy droning on in the background. I turned to my wife and asked, "Is that guy still talking??"
psychotoddler | Homepage | 06.10.05 - 12:55 pm | #