THERE are two things that Jamaicans love to do: events (parties, funerals, weddings, and 'official functions') and chat. We are on a high if we can do both at the same time. Over the years I have noticed that whereas 'officialdom' has been forced to stick to certain rules for their events, there have been absolutely no regulations for Maas John 'Q' Public. So speeches last as long as there is a drop of drink in the glass and parties go on and on until the security forces abruptly pull the plug. Meanwhile the rest of us suffer. Enough! here are some guidelines on how to protect ourselves from relatives running rampant at our weddings and other significant personal events.
Social events bring us together face-to-face and improve the bonds that we share. They are powerful communication tools and are great for networking and for personal interface that renew acquaintances and cement existing relationships. For example, the last few days have seen Jamaicans celebrating the grand 50th birthday parties in style here and abroad. These affairs are mood lifters and should be staged with the intention to make us leave feeling good about our hosts and ourselves.
Fixed time length for speeches, tributes and remembrances. The most comfortable time span for a presentation at these events is at least seven minutes and any speech of this nature that goes for as long as 45 minutes should be a parliamentary presentation. How many of us have sat painfully through very long and detailed speeches at our private events? I know that we have all had the personal political family struggles, trying to decide whether to allow marathon-speaker Uncle Thaddeus to speak. Worse yet if the event is a wedding or a funeral and speaker has known the subject since childhood. You can bet your bottom dollar that he will leave no stone unturned to describe in mind-numbing, excruciating and embarrassing detail what happened each day in that person's life. With each rich memory that he mines, his speech grows longer and more irritating to us. Everyone who has been to a country function knows this. I once sat through two hours of ranting er... preaching, at a grandparent's funeral. Yet, civility forbids us from boisterously booing the 'speech-maker' to take his seat. I think it is time we wickedly devise a method by which the microphone turns piping red-hot in the hands of the speaker and he is forced to drop it and sit down. With our luck, he will probably ignore the burning microphone in his hand and continue speaking. Informal, though it may be, be kind to your audience members, as they are your neighbours, relatives and friends and some of them have very long memories.
Impromptu speakers and performer are the pariah of our personal events. You and I know them too. They who must speak at each and every event, whether or not they, or the one-man act they have so cruelly choreographed, is relevant for the occasion. People design their personal events to suit their specific purposes and, as such, have carefully selected their participants. Do not ruin it for them. If your name is not on the programme, do not find Machiavellian ways to include it just because you have a ready-made audience/speech, and you see someone who you want to "throw wud" on at the event. A word to the event owner, do not be persuaded by the sly one who sidles up to your shoulder to try and get a piece of your programme's action. Unless it is a case of dying wish I would recommend that you demur quickly, if not for yourself, think of your audience. Have mercy on us because the spur-of-the-moment piece will throw out our well-planned schedule.
Start Time. Every Jamaican stage show I have ever attended started long after the advertised start time, leading one to believe that promoters are vying for a prize for the latest starting show. Private functions are no different and have been known to start when "everyone arrives". I am sure somewhere in that is a hidden message for 'nerds' like you and I who turn up at 4:00 pm for an event that starts at 6:00 pm. It is clear that our hosts are waiting for the more important guests (clearly not us) to arrive in order to start. The late start has become a strong part of our DNA that no one goes to a party before 10:00 pm unless you are the caterer or the decorator. We need to clean up our late start act because somehow it spills over into our professional lives.
Event length. Most Jamaicans like to live out loud, large and strong. We do not do things in half measures and this include the length of our private events. In Jamaica, it is not really a party if you have to leave the premises before the am with the 'encouragement' of the strong arm of the law. It would seem that we just love when the security forces come and chase us out of the venue. The Noise Abatement Act (1997) was meant to cure us of this 'sin'. The act states that: "Where the noise occurs in the vicinity of any dwelling house, hospital, hotel infirmary, nursing home or guest house, between 2:00 am and 6:00 am on Saturday or Sunday morning and is audible beyond a distance of 100 metres, it will automatically be presumed that the noise causes annoyance. The same applies from midnight to 6:00 am of the following mornings. Enough said. Sure we love to have fun, but we need to have a plan and be more organised.
Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with RO Communications Jamaica, specialising in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.rocommunications.com and post your comments.