I know people are busy, so I’m going to try to keep this short.
The month of June is a wonderful time of year. By now, the flowers and leaves are in full bloom, and summer is already in the air. The world has come back to life in its annually miraculous way.
June also usually includes many weddings, as the mourning period of S’firas HaOmer has concluded and the Three Weeks of mourning for the Beis HaMikdash are still a few weeks away. Weddings are followed by sheva brachos, which includes good food, an amicably joyous atmosphere, and speeches.
June is also often chock-full of fundraising dinners for yeshivos, charitable organizations, and shuls. Formal dinners are replete with smorgasbords and good food (hopefully) – and speeches.
The end of June also means graduation season. As our ultimate expression of devotion to our loved ones, we sit through their graduations, which include speeches, speeches, and then a few more speeches.
Someone once quipped that the point of commencement speeches is because we should never send graduates into the world to face the challenges of life until we can be sure they are well rested.
There is one theme that seems to repeat itself in all forums of speeches. Speakers often begin by saying “I know it’s late…” or “I was asked to speak briefly…” Yet, I have yet to hear any speaker who has begun with such a statement who actually speaks briefly. In fact, I have realized that when a speaker begins by speaking about the length of his speech, it is usually his way of warning the audience to get comfortable because he will probably not speak briefly. What he really is saying is, “I know it’s late but it’s about to get later” or “I was asked to speak short, but I probably won’t. Still, as a bit of a compensation, here’s a cute opening joke about how boring speeches are (perhaps such as the one you are about to be subjected to).”
When the conclusion of a speech is followed by a raucous applause, I often wonder if the applause is for the speaker and/or his speech, or if it’s for the fact that he has finally concluded.
If you really want to keep your speech short, don’t speak about your speech; just say your message and conclude. The audience will love you for it and will forgive you for not relating the story about the lion who didn’t devour his victim because after the meal comes the speeches, or about the fellow who got up to get a haircut during a speech because he didn’t need one before the speech started.
May we all be blessed with wonderful occasions. May we enjoy weddings and sheva brachos, wonderful receptions that raise much money for their worthy organizations, and graduations of our family members and friends. And may every speech at these events be inspiring and enjoyable, and short enough to bear. As the old saying goes: A good speech has a good beginning, a great end – and not much in between.