“A Woman Of Few Words” is Paula Krebs’ blog entry about how “one of the nice things about being a dean at this time of year is being asked to ‘say a few words.'” I agree with her advice about being concise and developing the proper focus:
“The trick, of course, is to find the Few Words that touch on the occasion and keep the focus where it should be. I’ve learned to try to pick one or two things to say about the students or faculty who are being commemorated, but they have to be things that come from me. It’s no good when I try to praise folks or fields I know nothing about. It rings false and ruins the mood, like a eulogy from a minister who can’t even pronounce the deceased’s name.”
That advice served me well when making banquet season speeches. I don’t have any speechifyin’ currently scheduled for the summer, but if something gets added I’ll be ready!