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“7 Presentation Must-Haves” Modeled in Helen Mirren’s Tulane Commencement Address

by | May 23, 2017 | 2 comments

Read Dame Helen Mirren’s Commencement Address. It’s funny, relevant and meaningful. You will also learn 7 presentation ‘must-haves’ for your messaging.

Presentation ‘Must–Have’ Tip #1: Be prepared.

And I want to assure to you, you can relax, I’m prepared, I’ve done my homework for today.

And she was prepared – with many references to Tulane, New Orleans and vivid examples taken from these very college graduates.

Presentation ‘Must–Have’ Tip #2: Know your audience & engage the potential diversity of your audience.

You did it! All those classes, all those essays, all those discussions and lectures, all those nights at the computer… and perhaps a greater test of endurance, all those nights at the Camellia Grill, the F&M and all those parties.

Some of you have a clear idea of a plan and where adulthood will take you. You have known since you were 5 years old. Others of you have no idea, but don’t worry, both ways work. 

Presentation ‘Must–Have’ Tip #3: Find commonality with your audience.

For a while, we owned a home here, and my stepson Rio started his bar empire here — Pal’s Lounge midtown and One Eyed Jack’s in the Quarter—and thank you for supporting it with your parents’ hard-earned money.

Presentation ‘Must–Have’ Tip #4: Use humor.

Whenever I take on a role, I do my research to truly understand the character I’m playing. When I played a secret agent in Red, I learned how to fire a gun; when I played the Queen, I learned how she interacts with her advisers; and when I played a sadistic, horrible teacher in Teaching Mrs. Tingle, I went to observe some professors at LSU.

She pokes fun at Tulane’s rival and she uses the Humor List of Three Rule: a string of three phrases where you expect the third and final phrase to be like the first two, but that’s where you add the surprise.

I could not resist one more example of Mirren’s great use of humor:

The second point about commencements speeches: Talk about your journey and connect it to everything you have in common with the audience. So, today’s speech will contain advice for any of you born in England who decide to become Shakespearean actresses, and end up doing nude scenes in 10 films. I mentioned that just to see if any of your fathers are getting out their cellphones now to google me. Dads. Stop. Inappropriate. Put it away. I mean the phone!

Presentation ‘Must–Have’ Tip #5: Use the Power of Three.

And to prepare for today, I did my research on what people expect from a commencement speaker. There are hundreds of tips out there — but really just three big ones.

Presentation ‘Must–Have’ Tip #6: Empower your audience.

That’s how I see your generation – as empathetic, caring, game-changers — but also as one that is radical, brave and often making trouble. And I hope you’ll never stop because you are doing the right things at the right time at the right age.

Simply put — your decisions, based on your instincts, are pretty well inevitably correct.

Presentation ‘Must–Have’ Tip #7: Establish your theme.

I found one inspiring answer in Mayan wisdom that said so much in so few words, I had it tattooed on my left hand.

It’s a simple phrase: “Inlakesh.”

It means: “You are my other self. We are one. I am Another Yourself.”

The Mayans were on to something.

Because if I’m you – I have a responsibility to you. If you’re me – you have a responsibility to me.

The Mayans just had a more beautiful way of saying “we’re all in this together.”

We’re all in this together — remember that, so that you can make some sense out of and fix this crazy, crazy world.

Your Speak For Yourself® Challenge: You may be attending graduation ceremonies right now. Tis the season. Observe with purpose. If they’re really boring (sorry) try to figure out why. If they’re impactful, like Mirren’s address – look for the ‘presentation must-haves’.

We’re all in this together.

Source: http://time.com/4787502/helen-mirren-speech-tulane-university-commencement-graduation-2017/

© 123RF Stock Photo

© Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 2 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with decision makers on how to speak with gravitas. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Karen also speaks about her cousin, Albert Einstein, in a message about hope, resilience and brassieres.

Read more at www.SpeakForYourself.com/blog.

Did you know that Speak For Yourself® also works 1:1 with decision makers on overcoming the fear of public speaking? Click here: https://www.karencortellreisman.com/seminar-what-i-didnt-say.html




  1. Courtney Ramsey

    Love this one! What a great example to use to demo each point!

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Thanks, Courtney. Helen Mirren did such a great job with this speech. We can all learn from her. We appreciate your feedback.

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