Message vs. Messenger?

Which is more important: the message or the messenger?  Boston University graduates learned one more lesson yesterday as they cheered their commencement speaker’s remarks.  While initially disappointed not to have a more prominent, celebrity-type messenger, U.S. Representative and former Somerville (MA) mayor Michael Capuano won over the crowd with his message.  “You do not have to be extraordinary, you do not have to be rich or famous to change this world.  Anyone and everyone can make a difference.”  

While I could write an entire blog on the clear motivational message in Representative Capuano’s remarks, there’s another lesson here about the importance of having a message that resonates with your audience whenever you’re speaking — whether to a large graduating class, board room or staff meeting.   

A common concern for all commencement speakers this year was how to address an ever-expanding group of graduates in a still-shrinking economy?   Representative Capuano tackled the other thought dominating his audience’s minds…”Why should they care about what a little-known politician had to say?  What could he possibly say to them that they would find interesting?”  He nailed it — 1) knowing his audience; 2) anticipating what was on their minds; and 3) courageously tackling their concern by making that his message!  

Brilliant and clearly a hit!  One last lesson the graduating class of 2009 can take away from their Boston University education.

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