As with everything else this year, Senior Speakers is in a new and vastly different format. Whereas we used to all gather at Sterling Place once a week to hear a few seniors share stories, we now gather on Zoom once a week to sometimes hear stories, but also hear performances.
I used to look forward to Senior Speakers each week, as there are many hilarious and insightful stories told over the course of the year. It was also a time where everyone gathered together for a shared experience. However, I now find myself dreading having to log into another Zoom meeting at the end of a school day. To try and gather a few more opinions, I asked Caleb D. (‘21), Moya L. (‘21), and Dr. Rodberg for their opinions on the new senior speakers.
Is the new format enjoyable for the speaker? As Caleb D. (‘21) points out, because speakers can customize the format of their speech now, they might be more enthusiastic about it, seeing as they get to present in a manner that they enjoy. Instead of not looking forward to giving a speech, you could look forward to giving a performance or a presentation about an issue you care about. You could even combine the two, like Michael K. (‘21) did. But on the other hand, giving a speech to a camera instead of a live audience doesn’t allow the speaker and audience to connect at all, which might make speaking less enjoyable.
As an audience member, I find senior speakers much less enjoyable than last year. I find myself tuning out and not focusing on the presentation as often, mainly because it doesn’t feel as though I’m receiving an authentic speech. Dr. Rodberg points out, however, that many times it is much easier to enjoy and appreciate the speeches because they are so diverse and might include music one day, a funny story another, and a piece of advice the next. This point could also just be a personal preference though, as Moya L. (‘21) prefers speeches over performances.
While everyone could agree that the new senior speakers meetings don’t feel the same and never will, everyone also agrees that that’s ok, and there isn’t really a way for it to swap to Zoom and retain all the qualities of being in person. Zoom events can’t feel the same as real life, and it would be silly to hold all Zoom events to the standards of real-life events.
Personally, I hope all of the newfound speech formats are brought to real-life events. As Caleb pointed out, they allow seniors to be much more enthusiastic about what they’re presenting, instead of possibly not looking forward to giving a long speech in front of so many people. Having multiple formats also makes Senior Speakers more refreshing for the audience. Instead of sitting down for a speech every week, you get to wonder whether you’ll get a musical performance, learn something new in a presentation, or listen to a speech