Here we are, at the end of May, and we find ourselves sitting in gymnasiums cheering on the accomplishments of loved ones as they end one chapter and begin the next… ah, Graduation Season!
This past weekend I had the joy of flying down to Kansas to attend my niece and nephew’s high school graduation. I will admit, amidst being elbow-deep in proposal writing and event ideation, this break was both welcomed and needed. Little did I know the speeches of 18 year olds would ground me in the simple truths of what I love to do in the event industry!
Now, we have all sat through a high school graduation speech or two – you know, talking about the experiences we all relate to; the awkward teenage years, that first kiss and subsequently first break-up, homecomings and proms, stories about favorite teachers and then there is the inside joke only the graduating class would understand. The speeches always end with the power-punch of sad goodbyes of all things familiar masked with nervous optimism of what is to come.
This past weekend, two young adults delivered speeches that hit every emotional note with scripted perfection. The two speeches couldn’t have been more different in tone, but the message was very clear. One speech was self-defined as rambling and was emotionally rooted in the high school experience. The other speech was aggressively filled with facts and figures quantifying their young lives with some added zingers pointed at the state’s political head, Governor Brownback, followed by suggestions on how the Koch brothers could better invest in the future of this next generation.
These two young adults successfully took on the challenge of telling THEIR authentic story while representing the collective 18 years of experience with their classmates. Whether they were stories of gushy moments in the hallways or commentary on how the politics of the state have affected their education, it was clear that each of their unique voices were essential to the collective story that is the Class of 2015.
Returning home and digging back into my current stack of event ideation and proposal writing, I had to chuckle at myself thinking, ha – this is my graduation speech moment. Our clients are asking us to help create a unique experience, a platform, that will win over their leadership while selling their authentic story.
As these young graduates reminded me, to get a truly unique experience is to know an individual’s story, or in this case, a client’s story. This is why our ideation process “begins with a conversation.” We immerse ourselves in their environment not only to hear what they have to say, but oftentimes the unique and authentic story comes from what happens between the scripted and polished statements – or to further use the graduating class analogy, understanding the inside joke because we took the time to sit in the classroom.
So, with “Pomp and Circumstance” as a never-ending earworm (you’re welcome), I finish these proposals with the hope I am doing for our clients, what these young adults did for their graduating class – scripted an authentic story filled with unique experiences while staying true to their collective voice.