It’s that time of the year when university officials are picking commencement speakers.
Perhaps they should heed to words of the Washington Post: Conservatives give better commencement addresses than liberals.
Drawing on a sample of 48 speeches — 30 by conservatives, 18 by liberals — the Post concludes that the right-leaning speakers stand out for five reasons …
1. Conservatives speak to graduates as individuals.
Liberal commencement speakers tend to address graduates as members of a group, usually a generational, gender or racial group … and call on graduates to act as a group as well, as part of an activist community or movement:
Though conservatives can also lapse into generation-speak, they are more likely to address graduates one-on-one, focusing on people more than movements.
2. Conservative speeches are shorter.
Conservatives tend to make points. Liberals tend to pontificate.
3. Conservatives give more actionable advice.
Liberal speeches are often broadly inspiring – “now. Go and change the world” — but usually short on specifics.
But conservatives, whether or not you like their advice, seem more willing to get granular. “Promise yourself that over the next year, you’re going to spend half an hour a day learning something new
4. Conservatives tell better stories.
“If you have to sit through a final lecture before graduating, it may as well be entertaining.
By far, the more memorable personal tales in these collections come from conservative speakers.”
5. Conservatives are less likely to suck up to you.
There are some conservative suck-ups, but a common strain is: “Remember, the world does not revolve around you, yet, and you are not the future leaders of the country, yet, just because you’ve graduated.”
The Post’s overall conclusion:
“ arguing that conservative commencement addresses are better than liberal ones is not the same as saying that conservative speeches are all that great.
Most commencement speeches are, in fact, forgettable … regardless of political leaning.”.
P.S. I thought that Gail McGovern – CEO of the Red Cross — did a terrific job at MSB’s MBA commencement lastyear. Her theme: Leadership. She had cred since she was an exec at AT&T and Fidelity before taking the Red Cross job.
The memorable line: “At AT&T and Fidelity, I would say jump and people would ask ‘how high?’. Now, if I try to tell one of our 400,000 volunteers to jump, they just stare back at me. I have to motivate them, not order them”.