ceremonial speaking

What is a Commemorative Speech?

Commemorative speeches are sometimes known as "ceremonial" or "epideictic" speeches. They are based on six different aspects of a certain special occasion: what the occasion is, why is it taking place, to whom is it taking place for, when and where it is taking place, and for how long. At the most basic level, commemorative speeches pay tribute or praise a person, an institution, an event, idea, or place. Their focus is on VALUES. All societies hold certain values central to human existence: beauty, loyalty, wisdom, kindness, tradition, success, innocence, experience, and courage, for example. The commemorative speech will celebrate these values. Types of commemorative speeches include the eulogy, the speech of nomination, the speech of goodwill, the wedding toast, and the award acceptance speech.

Commemorative Speeches are different based on the occasion and have set goals to be achieved by the speaker (examples: focus, enthusiasm, themes, styles, and things to avoid)
When giving a ceremonial speech, there are five different types for the variety of ceremonies that occur around all parts of the world: speech of introduction, speech of presentation, acceptance speech, commemorative speech, and after-dinner speech.

Please note that the commemorative speech is not just informative. Thus, a speaker would not just give a biography of Ghandi, but rather would celebrate who he was, why he was worthy of praise, and encourage the audience to celebrate those values.

Commemorative Speaking and the Future

Often, the inspiring commemorative speech goes beyond celebrating past or present accomplishments to give the audience hope for the future. For example, in 1986, when Ronald Reagan gave his now famous eulogy for the Challenger astronauts, he not only praised Christa MacAuliffe and the deceased astronauts, he gave the people of the United States a message of hope for the future of the space program—that it would not die with this mission, but would continue to thrive. Consider how the speaker can link past, present, and future in a commemorative speech.

As you may have guessed, language becomes an essential part of effective commemorative speeches. Using stories, illustrations, and figurative language helps the audience to share your experience.

Note that it is difficult to pay tribute to trivial topics. Therefore, a commemorative speech on, say, “tailgating parties” would not be appropriate. This speech is about what is most important to society —honor, trust, gentleness, etc.

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