Special Speeches

by Stephen Boyd | January 15, 2005

Special or ceremonial speeches are presentations that most of us will be called upon to deliver at some time. They include eulogies, introductions, presentations of awards, welcomes, and toasts. But even though they are delivered for different purposes, there are traits common to all special speeches.

The first of these traits is that you should always mention your connection to the person or event. There is usually a reason why you are giving the speech, and this should be included in your remarks. This provides continuity to the program and helps audience members feel more comfortable.

Second, all of these speeches should be short. Usually there are other people and activities on the agenda, and you should keep your remarks brief. Around a minute and a half for a toast and up to five minutes to eulogize a person would be appropriate.

Third, keep your remarks upbeat and positive. You are there to inspire, affirm, inform, and prepare the audience for what is to follow. Help the audience anticipate what happens next.

Fourth, these are speeches where a manuscript is almost mandatory. Often the special speech is memorable to the people involved and you want to say just the right word or sentence. In addition, copies of the speech might be asked for by interested audience members. Some of these special speeches create high emotion, and your memory might not work as well under these conditions. The manuscript can help you avoid memory blocks.

In the first few sentences of any of these speeches, tell the audience what your purpose is. For example, you might say, "I'm here tonight to welcome you to '," or "We are here to remember the life and influence of '," or "I'm delighted to be the presenter of this award on this special occasion." This is not the time to talk about the weather or what a beautiful day it has been.

Finally, the ending should mention the person or event being honored. Use a simple line such as, "I'm delighted to present this award to'," or "With these affirmations, we toast you '," or "We welcome you Rotarians to the city of Cincinnati."

Use these commonalities in your preparation and you will deliver an effective ceremonial speech.

About the Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at http://www.sboyd.com. To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.

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