For detailed information about special occasion speaking, see my e-books: Toasts, Eulogies, Introductions, and Other Special Occasion Speeches; Bare Bones Public Speaking.
Commemoration or Celebration
Inspirational: Also, "Reinforce." One speaks to the converted. The pre-game pep talk is a form of this speech. Party Nomination speeches also have characteristics of inspiration. Emotional appeals are appropriateno proof is necessarybecause of audiences agreement. You are "preaching to the converted," or the congregation. What you want to make sure to do is provide "reasons" or links for the audience to grasp. That is, tell them why this event should be important to them and about what they should to be excited. Using personal experience here is often quite useful. Keep your point simple; be sure to make your point clear; and, identify specific behaviors the audience can engage in.
Commemoration or Celebration: Commemoration deals with past events, e.g., patriotic and historical occasions and celebrations of past eventscf. the speeches on Martin Luther King, Washington, or Susan B. Anthonys birthdays. Celebrations are often more focused on current events: graduations, celebrations of "specialness," bicentennials, sesquicentennials, individual or group accomplishments, etc. Be sure to have a coherent point. Narrative, personal and family experiences, and the retelling of important stories are strategies that are often employed here.
Nomination: Persuasive and enthusiastic. Speech to actuate. Like a speech of tribute. Business-like, energetic, and your goal is to stress the qualifications of the person involved. Begin with statement of intent"to rise to place a name in nomination"; state the requirements needed for the job; name the candidate and state the persons qualifications for the positionyour job is to show why the nominee is an excellent choice; finally urge the audience to endorse the candidate as you formally place their name in nomination. Alternatively, you might start with the persons name if they are already well known and understood to be a potential candidate.
Goodwill: Create or strengthen favorable attitudes: Establish Ethos. Goodwill speeches are based around creation/cultivation of modesty, tolerance, and good humor. Sometimes your goal will be to change uninformed beliefs and hostile attitudes. You must know and represent the facts clearly and show a tolerant, patient, attitude. Do not deride or attack opposing views or competitors but instead be good-natured and good-humored. Keep in mind three things:
Tribute: To create in those who hear it a sense of appreciation for the traits or accomplishments of the particular person or group. If you make the audience realize their essential worth you have succeeded, however, you should go beyond this; by honoring the person, you may arouse deeper devotion to the cause or vales the person or group represented. Avoid pedantic speech and ostentatious speakingno purple prose.
Toast: Many cultures including our own, employ a sophisticated tradition of toasting. Russian Tomadas, for example, entertain as well as serving as toast master/mistress. "Toast Masters" (the group) in a sense, practice a form of toasting; as does the Rotary club. The Russians may toast all around the table, and the Georgians (former USSR not U.S.) are considered great speakers and often offer very beautiful and elaborate toasts.
Introduction: Make the audience receptive for the speaker and want to hear him/her: Talk with the speaker, perhaps consult their resume or vitae. The speech of introduction is intended to highlight the accomplishments, credentials, activities, and characteristics of the individual to speak. There are several conventions to be observed when conducting an effective speech of introduction. Do them well and the audience will be excited and feel rewarded to hear the speaker; do them poorly and the audience will want you to shut up.
Farewell: When someone is bidding farewell to others they often comment on the situation under which they are leavingit may be bitter as in Nixons case, or fond as when a respected school teacher or colleague retires. Farewell speeches are given by both the retiree, and by those who are remaining behind. When expressing gratitude for another, note the experiences, kindness, support, helpfulness, opportunities, consideration, and warmth the individual extended.
Entertainment: Usually brief 35 minutes; but may be longer, 510 minutes tops. The speech to entertain requires more imagination, creativity, discretion, versatility, and judgment than perhaps any other type of speech. The purpose of the speech to entertain is, according to Robert G. King, "to interest, please and amuse your listeners." J.K.Horner writes that the primary purpose of the after dinner [or entertainment] speech is "entertainment and good fellowship." Enjoyment is the desired response from the audience in a speech to entertain. Its function is to contribute favorably to the climate of fellowship among the listeners. In a successful speech to entertain, observes William Allen Wood, "we expect our intellect, our taste, and our affections to be pleased." Additional suggestions for the composition and delivery of after dinner speeches are as follows:
Dedication: Dedication speeches are given for the person or people who were instrumental in the construction, fundraising, or placement of buildings, objects, monuments, artworks, ships, (or any monumental vessel) and places (parks, etc.).
NB: The Champagne bottle is scored so that it will break when it is struck on the ship or building (score it well so it only takes one shot). If an elderly person is doing the breaking, be sure a couple of young people are nearby to assist them if they lose their balance.
Eulogies/Memorial: Eulogies are usually given for a person soon after their death at a funeral service; memorials are for large groups and are often held well after an individual(s) death.
The rhetoric of funeral oratory and eulogy:
Reconciling rhetorics of past and present
Dissertation: The rhetoric of eulogies:
A generic critique of classic and contemporary funeral oratory
Thanks to Marcia Stratton, University of Alaska Anchorage, and Hank Scheele, Purdue University, for much of this content.
Article: The rhetoric of eulogy:
Topoi of grief and consolation
When in 362 BCE a chasm appeared in the Roman forum, and the soothsayers declared that it could only be filled by throwing Romes greatest treasure into it, Mettius Curtiusdeclaring rather complacently that "Rome had no greater treasure than a brave citizen"leapt on horseback into the gulf, which then closed after him.
Thomas De Quincy, Confessions of an English Opium Eater, end note 140.
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Last updated: Sunday, November 11, 2007