People who don't want to listen, being forced to sit through speeches that the speakers don't want to give.
If that sounds like a graduation or gala or corporate event you recently attended, I feel your pain.
If someone starts by telling a joke that they know is lame or starts going through all the tribulations they had finding something to say, if the audience is checking the time or secretly tweeting, then the event itself is broken. The speaker who discharges an obligation is not a speaker you are hoping to hear.
Maybe obligatory speeches used to have a point, maybe they used to serve a vital function, but they no longer do.
Here's a thought: Let the students run their own graduation. Cancel any speeches that could easily be delivered instead via an interactive website. Put the credits and the thank yous into a beautiful document that you hand to everyone and switch the entire dynamic to:
People thrilled to be listening to people who are excited to be speaking.