A commemorative speech is given to an audience to highlight memories or important details about a person, place, event, or institution. It’s supposed to compel, move, inspire, and enlighten listeners depending on what you have to say. Let’s take a look at some commemorative speech ideas to help put together a speech, that is worthy of a standing ovation.
Commemorative speeches usually revolve around the essence and significance of a certain memory, usually in the form of a tribute or as a fond recollection of what was. For example, if a political figure is behind the erection of a hospital targeted at the welfare of a community, he/she gives a speech to the media and other people present, on how the hospital is going to change and save lives. The speech would draw emphasis to the unfortunate state of things before the hospital’s opening, and how it was going to make a huge difference for the community. Likewise, if there is an event or situation that calls for a speech that outlines the past, present, and what is in store for the future, it is commemorative in nature.
In the following sections of this SocialMettle article, we give you some tips and ideas for making a good commemorative speech, some speech topic ideas, and the themes or values that you should focus on, depending on the topic.
Commemorative Speech Ideas for Beginners
It is important to know how to give a speech when it comes to the commemorative sort. Many of us aren’t equipped with flawless oratory skills, but with much practice and self-confidence, one can pull it off with finesse.
Everyone loves an animated, articulately beautiful storyteller, who can reveal tales from the past, while wrapping it all up tactfully with the present. It’s a refreshing take on how to give a speech, where audiences are looking for a speech that makes them sit upright in rapt attention. People want to slip into an imaginative state where every sentence you utter, takes them to a place they’ve never been to, or a situation they may or may not have experienced. You can bring so many instances to life using mere words, where holding an audience’s attention is not a cinch. Try piecing together a speech that has a mix of anecdotes and relevant information, to leave a lasting impression.
The Power to Influence
There are many outstanding men and women who have moved audiences to take action against injustice, maintain a rigid faith in what they believe, or remain steadfast during a time of discord, by giving groundbreaking speeches that changed the world (key figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Barbara Charline Jordan, and Dwight David Eisenhower, to name a few). It is of utmost importance to nurture one’s reading and writing skills, before mastering the art of speaking. A speaker must not only be articulate, but possess the ability to galvanize audiences to do the right thing, or pursue a dormant desire to change his/her/someone’s life, or attitude. In a sentimental scenario, a speech must draw emphasis on the person/event/place in question, in a way that no one else sees. Paint a picture that is vivid, emotional, and potent in its delivery.
Understand Your Audience
Think about the bevy of people you’re going to speak to. Are they young, old, influential, subordinates, guests, a community, ethnically diverse, or challenged in some way? Be sympathetic to the kind of audience present, because they are either going to remember your profound speech, or forget it the minute they leave. The best way to know what kind of people you’re going to speak to, is through the central theme of your topic. Connect the two by writing a speech that is appropriate to the sort of audience you’re dealing with, and the leading theme of the moment. If it isn’t a humorous scenario, leave jokes out of it; if it is somber, don’t be critical or cynical; if it is professionally serious, then let the situation take control, but don’t leave the audience despising you. To invoke strong feelings from your audience, use a placid, strong tone and make plenty of eye contact.
Be Open to Questions
Interacting with an audience is always helpful, because it gives you valuable insight into what’s going on in their heads. Encourage them to speak freely without feeling intimidated or concerned, about the repercussions of asking certain questions. If your speech requires human interaction, then be open to such a session of questions and answers, providing feedback forms for the audience with the choice to remain anonymous.
If you think the speech will fare better by using certain props like projectors, or audio-visual footage, then go ahead and use them. It gives it more weight, keeping an audience engaged from start to finish. Try to keep it light, fresh, and to the point, eliminating the bombardment of complex facts and figures; audiences would hate that. Maintaining brevity is the key. Even during a wedding reception, a toast shouldn’t exceed the three-minute mark; speak briefly about who you are to the groom/bride, drop in an incident or two that you think others should know about, or enlighten people about the sanctitude of such a union. End it gracefully with heartfelt wishes, or even a poem that you see fit to read out loud.
The way you move speaks volumes, where even keeping one’s intonation in-check is crucial. How you gesticulate is scrutinized by those who are listening to you speak; don’t use overly animated gestures while speaking. How you pace back and forth, maintain eye contact, smile, hold your posture, or control your facial movements, is an orchestrated art that speakers must know of, and practice. The best way to do this is to have someone watch your every move and examine you critically as a listener, preferably someone who has done a speech before. Look at yourself in the mirror as you speak and learn how to carry yourself with poise.
Commemorative Speech Topics
Here are some themes that you can concentrate on, based on what you are going to speak about. Depending on the sort of speech you’re giving, use the following expressions to bring out the best in what you have to convey.
◆ Service, Loyalty, Humor, Dedication, Resolve, Honor, Freedom, Kindness, Compassion, Originality, Faith, Honesty
◆ Openness, Hard work, Teamwork, Humility, Patriotism, Charity, Peace, Hospitality, Compromise, Bravery, Respect, Dreams
Commemorative speeches may include an account of past events or a tribute to a person/people. The occasions on which these speeches are given, range from birthdays and weddings to opening ceremonies and farewells. If the speech is about a person, it includes incidents that describe the kind of person he is/was and his accomplishments. If the speech is about an institution, it includes the history of its establishment and its achievements. You could give the commemorative speech a funny take, if the occasion is a happy one. For example, when talking about a friend on his birthday, you could use humor and narrate funny incidents in his/her life. However, this will not apply to serious topics such as recounting the incidents of a war.
Commemorative Speech Topic Ideas
◆ A Tribute to World War II Soldiers
◆ Heroes of World War I
◆ People in the American Revolution
◆ The 2010 Haiti Earthquake
◆ The Fall of the Berlin Wall
◆ Stock Market Crash of 1929
◆ The Moon Landing
◆ First Expedition to Mt. Everest
◆ The Establishment of …
◆ A Tribute to (eminent personality)
◆ Women who Changed the World
◆ Remembering Grandma/Grandpa
◆ A Tribute to Mother/Father
◆ Remembering My Pet Dog
◆ My First Trip Abroad
◆ Buying My First House
◆ My Best Friend …
Commemorative speeches or any other speech for that matter, must be presented in a manner that keeps an audience spellbound from start to finish. Do a little research before giving your speech, drawing inspiration from renowned speakers and even polishing your speaking skills. Using these tips and tricks, you’ll be well-prepared to give an exceptional speech.