Commemorative Speech: Guide, Tips, and Topic Ideas

Last Updated: 02 February 2024

Are you planning to give a commemorative speech and don't know where to begin? You are in luck. A commemorative speech, also known as a ceremonial speech, aims at paying tribute to someone's contributions. Knowing how to write a commemorative speech will help determine whether your message will positively impact the audience.

You must first understand what a commemorative speech is, the topics involved, and how to write an outline to begin writing. The following guide will help you know what to do when writing a commemorative speech.

What is a Commemorative Speech?

A commemorative speech is a form of a public presentation to honor or celebrate a person, group, institution, or idea for their accomplishments or contributions to the world. In simpler terms, the speech aims at uniting people to celebrate, appreciate and remember someone for their good

The main objectives of the speech are to:

Ideally, once your audience has heard everything you say, they will be hopeful and positively influenced. The speech could be given to smaller or bigger audiences; for instance, commemorative speeches celebrating memorial or Independence Day are often for larger groups of people.

You have to go for a commemorative speech topic that truly resonates with the demands of the event. When giving the speech, you have to focus on the aspect of the topic's past, present, and future to deliver an inspirational message such as, success, loyalty, wisdom, courage, hope, etc. Therefore, you must really think through, write from the heart, and highlight all the important events from the past.

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Commemorative Speech Outline

A commemorative speech should follow the outline below:

Features of a Good Commemorative Speech

You should be able to capture the attention of the audience and want them to listen to it from start to finish. This is why your speech should be:

Engaging- Even if you have a room full of eager speakers, what matters most is how you engage with them. High engagement helps you stand out and create room for making your message more meaningful. You should be creative and avoid clichés if you want to stand out. Great speakers engage the audience using all five senses: sight, hearing, speech and touch.

Inspiring- Inspiration is the main purpose of a commemorative speech. Unfortunately, most speakers focus on themselves and forget that it is about the audience. You should sound bold and authoritative at the same time, humble to inspire your audience. Make sure you maintain eye contact with every person in the room and speak with them deliberately. That way, you can guarantee that your message provides value to your audience to be inspirational.

Relevant- Always ensure that you stay relevant to current events instead of just being general. You can achieve this by first being aware of your audience members, especially if you intend to reference them in the speech. For instance, if there are software engineers, ensure you reference them in your speech. Also, ensure you anticipate the questions they will ask and be prepared to answer them.

Positive-Since, the main purpose of a commemorative speech, is to celebrate someone, you should be positive from start to finish. However, obviously, if you seem overly enthusiastic, the speech will sound unnatural. You should therefore comprise a little bit to deliver a positive speech and meet the overall goal. In other words, when choosing a topic, you should select one that is optimistic and inspiring.

How to Choose a Commemorative Speech Topic?

Follow these methods when looking for a good commemorative topic:

Know What a Commemorative Speech is all about

You should understand all the characteristics of a commemorative speech to select the right topic. From the word go, to commemorate means to celebrate or praise. Therefore, your speech should unite and inspire by outlining the great memories of the subject.

Know the Purpose of the Occasion

Do a little research to determine what the occasion is about to understand how to give the right speech. You can reach out to the person in charge of the event to get more information or ask them what they would like the speech to be about. The speech could be prepared for reunions, funerals, dedications, or anniversaries. Whatever the case, just make sure you are in line with the event's purpose. The last thing you want to do is, choose a topic that is the opposite of what the event is about.

Know Who Your Audience Are

Understand whom your audience is first if you want to deliver the speech seamlessly. You can achieve this by doing a little research first before the event. These questions can help you get started:

Answering the above questions will help you determine the context of the speech.

Highlight the Qualities

Since a commemorative speech is about honoring someone or something, you should have all the notable qualities at your fingertips. If you do not remember some, it would not hurt to write them down. You should list all the qualities being celebrated. Let the purpose of the event and your audience guide you.

Steps for Writing a Commemorative Speech

Choose the Right Theme

Since a commemorative speech is aimed at honoring a person for their accomplishment, choose a theme in line with this goal. Think of the impact that person has brought to the people and you as well. While doing this, ensure that the themes are unique and not identical to what other speakers have discussed. They should also be meaningful enough that it provides a valuable message to the audience. Some of the themes of a commemorative speech include bravery, loyalty, service, independence, leadership, generosity, and creativity, among others.

After choosing a theme, select a material that will illustrate your chosen theme. To help you get started, let these questions guide you:

A good commemorative speech draws from the above points and combines them seamlessly to make sense to the audience.

Brainstorming Content Ideas

After selecting the right theme, it's time to brainstorm content ideas to include in your speech that will truly inspire your audience. Brainstorming ideas will help you develop ideas that celebrate the person and inspire the audience. Consider the following questions to help you come up with the right ideas:

Write an Outline

Similar to other pieces of writing, a commemorative speech must follow the right structure and organization to eloquently pass the message as intended. Thus, write an outline that shows your main points. Before doing this, the first review is to ensure that you are not just passing along a bunch of information but also rather celebrating the subject.

Write a Great Introduction

To truly capture your audience's attention and ensure your audience are aware of your subject's amazing contribution, you have to start with a great introduction. You can achieve this by beginning with a broad claim about the type of impact the subject has had. A good introduction should capture the attention of the audience, state the topic, make it relatable, establish credibility and highlight the main points. Make sure you build a personal connection right from the beginning and do your best to maintain it throughout the speech.

Develop the body of the speech

The body is the center part of the speech, which discusses all the main points. It is everything else apart from the introduction and conclusion. The speech will need between two to five points that truly discuss the subject's achievement.

Share Key Details

Add key subject details to the speech to make an impact. This information should be factual to ensure you do prior research to avoid looking uninformed in front of your audience. In addition, you can add any available sayings attributed to the subject of your speech.

Conclude Naturally

A good commemorative speech is like a good movie; you start by grabbing the audience's attention, develop the main points, and then end strongly.

Do not forget about ending the speech the right way if you want your message to be persuasive enough. Writing a conclusion for your speech is just as important as writing the introduction. The words you say at the end are usually the most persuasive, and your audience will remember them for a long time. The most memorable commemorative speeches ended with a bang and stirred up words that have lived on in memory.

Consider the following tips to help you end your speech the right way:

Practice in Front of an Audience

After writing your speech, read it in front of your close friends and family, who can critique and help add clarity to it. Even expert speeches require reviewing before being delivered to the audience. Your speech may look good on paper but fail to deliver the right message when read aloud or be full of errors. So ask for an honest opinion from those close to you concerning the facts, phrasing, and, flow of the speech.

How to Start a Commemorative speech?

Ever heard of “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression?” Well, the same can be said for starting a commemorative speech. How you start, your speech will determine whether people will listen to it or have, their minds wander off into the unknown. In addition, this will prevent your message from getting across. Capturing the attention of any audience is challenging but not impossible. These tips can help you do it the right way.

Use a Fascinating Story

A fascinating story is a perfect way to capture the imagination of your audience in your commemorative speech. A story makes your speech more than just words stacked together. It is a way of connecting with your audience by bringing the content of your speech to life. Your audience should be able to connect and relate to your story if you intend to make it more memorable.

There are different ways to tell a story to make it more captivating. These ways are:

Hero’s Journey

In a hero's journey, also known as monomythic, a hero goes on an adventure, then experiences and then faces a crisis in different stages, and eventually comes out as a conqueror and returns home in victory.

Rags to Riches

A rags-to-riches story shows how the main character faces hardships throughout their life but later achieves victory and great success.

False Start

When telling a false start, you begin by telling a predictable story and then revealing something out of nowhere before starting another story with a new perspective.

Use a Quote

Starting a speech with a relevant quote can help set the tone. A quote can help reinforce your main ideas by providing a second voice to echo your claims without repeating what you have said. It also shows your audience that you are credible by showing that other famous people agree with your sentiments. It doesn't have to be a quote from famous people like Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, or Mahatma Gandhi; you could quote someone your audience knows, like an earlier speaker.

Even though starting with a quote can positively influence your speech, do not assume that any quote can grab your audience's attention. Make sure you research first to get the phrasing correct; you do not want your audience to think you do not know what you are talking about. Apart from research, ensure you find a reliable source and avoid controversial quotes that could mislead the audience.

Ask a Question

The audience will always answer a question intuitively, whether the answer is called for or not. Therefore, questions are an effective way for you to control your message and the thought of the audience. They are among the best ways to engage your audience and persuade them to agree with your sentiments.

Be strategic in how you pose the question: A short and direct question is a way to draw your audience in. However, avoid manipulative or patronizing questions, as they could easily annoy our audience.

There are several questions starter you can pose to your audience. They could be based on experience, emotion, decision-making, or imagination. Before asking, ensure you determine the energy of your audience.

Use a Statistic

Startling statistics will clinch your claims and open the door to delivering your message. Fact and numbers add reality and bring reality into your claims. It also helps amplify you are your message by giving it an emotional feature.

Ensure that the statistic has the background context for your audience to assess it properly. A naked statistic will not do your speech much good, and it will make your audience wonder what your intentions are. So take your time researching and only choose one from a credible source.

Use Humor

Starting with humor will put your audience at ease and keep them wanting more. In addition, a good joke will make you more memorable since the joke will be easier to remember than a complicated point. There are several types of humor to use, which can crack your audience up, such as:

Keep the following in mind when starting a commemorative speech with humor:


Inviting your audience to deep introspection is a powerful way to inspire them. The more they visualize their participation in your speech, the more likely they will be to put your message into practice.

Start by asking them to take deep breaths and take a few moments to clear their minds. Then describe a scenario you want them to visualize. As you do this, encourage them to think of the personal influence they would have in the scenario.

If you are talking about climate change, a possible question could be, “What if there was a chance you could prevent the earth from dying? What things could you do differently that others haven't tried." But, again, this will provoke the audience to truly visualize your message.

How to End a Commemorative Speech?

While transitioning into the conclusion part of your speech, you should begin by using a signpost, otherwise known as a concluding statement. A good conclusion statement should be between 5-10% of the speech. If it is less than 5%, then it is too abrupt, and if more than 10%, then it is too long, and the audience may become too restless.

You have to end your commemorative speech with a bang to leave a lasting impression on your audience. Apart from planning the end remarks word for word and adding a call to action, you should:

Summarize Your Speech

Given that many people in your audience will only remember the conclusion, you should briefly recap the points to leave them with a key take. The more they hear the main points, the more likely they will remember them.

End with a Story

You can tell a brief story and include a story that will nail the message to them. Make sure the moral of the story is related to the speech message.

Make it Clear You Are Concluding.

Ensure the audience is aware that you are concluding the speech. There should be no confusion among your audience.

Commemorative Speech Topics

A commemorative speech topic should be able to celebrate the subject and inspire the audience. It should be captivating and transformational. Some popular speech topics are

Examples of Commemorative speeches from famous people;

9/11 Memorial Observance Ceremony by Obama

The 9/11 tribute from former president Barrack Obama paid a tribute to more than 3000 people who lost their lives during the terrorist attack. The speech honored the courage of those who put themselves in harm’s way to save people.

Steve Jobs’ 2005 about “Finding What You Love”

Steve Jobs shared a speech highlighting his lessons from dropping out of college, his reflections on death, and what he learned after being fired from Apple. The speech inspired people to value what they have and love what they do.

Parting Shot

A commemorative speech is one of the important ways of honoring someone or something for the good they have done. These speeches are delivered when celebrating a special occurrence to pay tribute to the subject. Knowing how to write a good speech will ensure that the main achievements of the subject are celebrated and remembered by those who will listen to it. The above guide will direct you into writing a speech worth remembering. Good luck.

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