A Commencement Speech of Sorts, June 2015

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

It’s the second week of June.

And, for another year, I was not asked to provide words of wisdom to inspire those seated in the audience in cap and gown.

Understood, and I take no offense.

GraduationBut, I do have some thoughts to share with today’s graduates, be they planning to enter college, the public relations industry or another career field.

Here are five.

1. Make Technology Work For, Not Against You. Do smart — not stupid — things with that smart phone, that tablet, that laptop. An inappropriate image, video or tweet can make life unnecessarily more challenging next month, next year, or a few years down the line.

2. Avoid Complacency. Know when it’s time to move on to something new, something better, something more rewarding. It’s easy to shift into the neutral gear of life and coast. When you’re not being challenged or fail to see new opportunities, leave your comfort zone behind and charge ahead in a different direction.

3. Get Serious About Doing Nothing. Stare out the window every once in a while and find something interesting. Walk aimlessly in a different direction. And, you guessed it, watch the sun take its time setting these long days of summer. NOTE: All of the above, and other similar behaviors, can and should be done without a handheld.

4. Be an Initiator. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in the past year.  (If you’re adverse to speaking on the phone, just send them a text.) Organize a reunion of friends or family. Dive headfirst into a cause or issue that you find stimulating.

5. Put Yourself in the Situation. Remember that words — and images and videos — can and often do hurt. Communicate regularly, but temper what you say and share with caution about the impact it may have on the recipient.

Perhaps someday I’ll be asked to deliver a real commencement speech that may rank within this “top 10 list” of commencement speeches.

Until then, the five ideas above will hopefully offer some inspiration. And, note to those who are planning commencement ceremonies for 2016: At this time my calendar is wide open.

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And, yes. The PRDude has offered advice to recent graduates of public relations programs. This post from 2012 is an example.