The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters explains the essence of good ceremonies: “All Scout ceremonies should be: dignified–simple–short. They should be based upon the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law and be conducted on a high plane so as to inspire the boy.”
That really says it all. There’s no place in good ceremonies for long-winded speakers, overly complex scripts, or anything that smack of initiations or horseplay. Here are a few other guaranteed ceremony killers:
- Bad physical arrangements. The middle of an Eagle court of honor is not the time to realize that you need a chair on stage for the honoree or that you forgot to adjust the room’s thermostat.
- Unprepared presenters. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the words in your script are if you presenters stumble over them.
- Inaudible presenters. If microphones are needed, get them and use them. Presenters often mistakenly assume that if they can hear themselves talk, the people in the back row can, too.
- Scripts that require memorization. Many Scouts (and adults) freeze up if they have to quote memorized lines. Memorization is also a problem in Scout Law candle ceremonies, where the recitation of the 12 points is interrupted by explanatory prose.
- Poor coordination. Even when each presenter is prepared, the transition from one speaker to the next can be awkward; it’s also easy to assume that someone else is bringing essential props. The best solution is to rehearse ahead of time.
- Announcements after the closing. Announcements are often a necessary part of ceremonies like courts of honor, but avoid making them at the end; doing so spoils the magic of the moment.