Click here for specific information and objectives
concerning the Commemorative Speech.
The main intent of commemorative speaking is either to
commemorate or pay tribute to a person, group, place/institution,
idea, monument, or event. Your function as a speaker is to
highlight the reasons for the occasion, express the sentiments held by
everyone involved in the celebration, commemoration, and tribute, and arouse
your audience with an inspiring speech. Use the principles of ceremonial/special
occasion and commemorative speaking outlined here to help you write, organize,
and deliver your commemorative speech.
1. Create a ceremonial speech that is short and
Except for those times when you are the primary speaker,
keep your ceremonial speech short; from one to five minutes long. Because
of this brevity, choose ideas and words that will have a dramatic effect
and practice your delivery so that you can convey the appropriate meaning
and feeling of your speech. Also, use a climactic oganizational pattern
and intonation, particularly when concluding the speech.
2. Adapt your speech to the occasion and the
person, place, or event you are
Base the content, language,
and delivery of your speech upon the nature of the occasion, the personality
of the honoree or the character of the event commemorated, and your audience's
sentiments towards the celebrated person or event. For instance, if you
are presenting a prestigious award at a formal awards ceremony or commemorating
a solemn occasion, use a formal style of language and a serious tone of
voice. However, if you are giving an anniversary speech to close friends
at a small dinner or a testimonial on behalf of a gregarious friend, use
informal language and a more sentimental or whimsical tone.
3. Consider the emotional needs of your audience
and attempt to fulfill these
needs with your speech.
Determine whether your speech should create a festive
mood, convey respect for the honoree's accomplishments, allow your audience
to grieve, or humor your audience and use appeals and a style of language
and speaking that will fulfill these needs.
4. Focus more on conveying your emotions, respect,
and sincerity than providing
a great deal of information about
Insofar as the majority of your audience will already
be familiar with the honoree, your main intent is not to inform or persuade
but to inspire and celebrate. However, you will still want to reacquaint
your audience with the achievements of the celebrated so that you can strengthen
their respect and admiration for the person, place, or event being celebrated.
To achieve both the purposes of informing and inspiring your audience,
try to be creative with your explanations and descriptions rather than
5. Unify your audience around emotions
and sentiments you commonly share for
For instance, narrate a personal experience involving
the honoree, quote an expression she always uses, or describe one of her
everyday activities that depicts a value or characteristic of the honoree
with which everyone can empathize. Likewise, try to describe the enthusiasm,
disappointment, and camaraderie felt by people who have worked together
on behalf of a cause, organization, or event so that they and others can
re-experience these feelings through your speech.
6. Make specific references to the particular
characteristics and contributions
of the honoree.
Do not generally state that the honoree has a good character
and many achievements; rather, cite specific examples of the honoree's
virtues and accomplishments so that your audience recognizes her unique
qualities and contributions. Moreover, to bring greater insight into the
honoree, describe a relatively unknown achievement or offer an original
interpretation of one of her attributes.
7. Balance your adulation of the honoree's professional
praise for her personal achievements.
Although your speech should concentrate on the honoree's
professional work, you should also mention those activities related to
honoree's personal life that she, herself deems important. For instance,
describe her family life, community activities, or work with non-profit
8. Do not understate or exaggerate your emotions
or praise for the honoree.
Avoid falling back upon overused cliches or trite statements
to reflect your sentiments. Rather, try to express your feelings in a more
innovative way. Never, however, attempt to give a speech if you will be
unable to control your emotions. This only creates an awkward situation
for both you and the audience and diverts attention away from the commemorated.
Lastly, do not exaggerate your praise for the honoree to the point of embarrassing
her or making your audience feel uncomfortable.
Letteri, R. (1997). A handbook of public speaking.
(2nd. ed.). New York: Cummings
Your Commemorative Speech will be evaluated using the following criteria:
______ Subject Introduced clearly and gained attention
______ Inspired audience/Captured mood
______ Main ideas flowed well/easy to follow
______ Conclusion smooth and Memorable
______ Language Clear (concrete language)
______ Language Vivid (Imagery, rhythm)
______ Language accurate/correct
______ Maintaining good eye contact
______ Facial expressiveness/effective use of gestures
______ Volume, vocal variety and emphasis
______ Effective rate, and use of pause
______ Spoke with sincerity and enthusiasm
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Copyright © 2002 - Ka Leo Kumu
Last Revised: January 16, 2002