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The New York Times reports on 2007 Commencement speeches.

Then, too, a number of speakers worried aloud that they might be going on too long. The presidential historian Michael Beschloss reminded graduates at Lafayette College that former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey was known for giving speeches that lasted as long as three hours.

“Once Humphrey did this, and even he knew he was overdoing it,” Mr. Beschloss said. “He yelled at the audience, ‘Anybody here got a watch?’ and someone yelled back, ‘How about a calendar?’ ”

Beschloss is class of 1977. The secret to a good Commencement address, as with any speech, is good jokes.

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#1 Comment By anonymouse On June 19, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

1) What does your audience value most?

2) Establish the character or persona you wish to convey, then the logic of conviction, followed by the emotion or passion of the audience.

3) Fit in by sharing their values with traits of “practical wisdom,” “virtue,” and “disinterested good will.”

4) Five “virtues” of style: Proper language (grammar), Clarity (understandable to all), Vividness (sensuous anecdotes), Decorum (sensitive language) & Ornament (does it sound good).

5) Ability to imprint an image. Architectural imagery. Focus visually.

6) Speak up, expressing character, delivering your argument and with emotion.

7) Gesture with your eyes rather than your limbs.

#2 Comment By Ronit On June 20, 2007 @ 10:03 am

Wit or humor of any kind was sadly missing from Couric’s over-sincere cliched speech.

#3 Comment By Anonymous On June 21, 2007 @ 4:28 am

7) Gesture with your eyes rather than your limbs.

Interesting. How come?

#4 Comment By anonymous On June 22, 2007 @ 1:32 am

Because eyes reveal while limbs display.