Sometimes the best way to grab your audience's attention is to say something totally contrarian to the norm.
It reminds me of Seth Godin's advice:
The sound of a small bell during a dark night…is louder than the din of traffic outside your window during rush hour.
Surprise and differentiation have far more impact than the noise does
Just look at John Waters' commencement speech as an example. The director of Hairspray and Cry-baby is hardly an academic, but dished out some great life advice to students at Rhode Island School of Design.
By his own admission Waters managed to do what he loves “for 50 years without ever having to get a real job.” Could there be any bigger inspiration for a graduating student?
WHY HIS SPEECH WORKS
The real punch to his speech came from his advice:
Go out in the world and f–k it up beautifully. Design clothes so hideous that they can’t be worn ironically. Horrify us with new ideas. Outrage outdated critics. Use technology for transgression, not lazy social living. Make me nervous!
Sometimes it is easy to be overawed by a situation and to "tow the line". But thankfully Waters took his own route.
Waters told students that it was their “turn to cause trouble – but this time in the real world, and this time from the inside.”
Appropriate advice from the director who was suspended from high school and kicked out of college in the “first marijuana scandal ever on a university campus,” only to go on to build “a career on negative reviews.”
Watch John Waters' graduation speech below: