A recent memorial service reflected a fairly long “open mic” segment. As I listened to family and friends share anecdotes, and as I reflected on those anecdotes later, I saw a lot of parallels with the storytelling that often goes on at Eagle courts of honor.
In both cases, the point of an anecdote is to illuminate the life and character of the person being honored. I think anecdotes are especially valuable at courts of honor, because many guests won’t know the honoree very well. Consider, for example, the younger Scouts in the audience who have only known him as senior patrol leader, the relatively uninvolved parents who barely know his name, and the school friends who only know a different side of him. The right anecdotes can help you create a fully realized, three-dimensional portrait of the honoree, showing that he’s far more than the sum of his merit badges, leadership positions, and community service.
Two speakers at that memorial service I attended stood out to me. One told three separate stories, each of which was interesting enough on its own but none of which really illuminated what made the honoree unique. (For example, the departed was a veterinarian, and she talked about how he lovingly he’d cared for her pet, which is something you’d hope any veterinarian would do.) The other woman briefly described how the departed had hired her a few years ago, even though she had been job-hopping and had other issues in her life that would have given him good reason to round-file her application. She then described how he’d kept her on even when, not long after being hired, she got pregnant and needed to have different duties.
That woman’s story, with its singular focus and built-in sequel, said far more about the man than some speakers who talked far longer and knew him better.
What stories can help you create a fully realized, three-dimensional portrait of your newest Eagle Scout?
For more ideas, check out my new ebook, Showtime: 45 Top Tips from EagleBook.com and The Eagle Court of Honor Book; it costs just $2.99 and is available for immediate download.