By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 04-25-2020 | First published: 02-01-2009
The ideal commemorative speech topic is one that inspires your audience. It enthralls, uplifts and whirls them through a journey of transformation.
Choosing the right one goes a long way toward ensuring that, by the time you tuck your cue cards back into your pocket at the end of speech you're planning to give, you'll leave your audience feeling satisfied and enriched.
But how do you choose exactly the right commemorative speech idea?
Could the speech be based on the red field poppy?
The one that's been used as a symbol since the end of World War One to honor soldiers who died in battle - particularly soldiers from UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand?
Perhaps talking about the background of the red poppy as a symbol would be interesting.
According to this Wikipedia article the poem In Flanders Field about the Second Battle of Ypres fought in Belgium was the most well known poem of its era.
It immortalized the poppy, making it a natural choice as an emblem. It needed no introduction. People already knew what it stood for.
Hang on. Slow down.
It's a great topic. And yes, it is very interesting, but wait!
Don't move so fast.
The process of getting the best commemorative speech topic begins, not with your choice of subject, but with:
Once you've grasped those choosing your topic will be so much easier. That's because when you've considered them carefully you'll be more likely to make the best decision.
Let's focus on them now.
Commemorative speeches do as their title suggests: commemorate.
They celebrate, praise, or pay tribute to memories. These could be memories of a person, a group, an institution, a thing, an event or, even an idea.
The goal/purpose of the commemorative speech (or tribute speech) is always to unite the audience.
You want to bring them together, to inspire them, to re-dedicate and refocus their energies through honoring and remembering the past.
Ideally after they've heard what you have to say they'll be filled to the brim with positivity and hope.
Examples of occasions calling for this type of speech are anniversaries, reunions, dedications, national and international remembrance days and funeral or memorial services.
I have some of these types of speeches on my site. For instance, there are more than 50 eulogies or funeral speeches that people from all over the world have sent in for me to post.
These are private examples - meaning a special commemorative speech for a family and friends group.
In contrast the commemorative speeches marking, for example, Memorial or Independence Day, are intended for a much larger public audience.
To help yourself make the best choice of topic find out as much as you can about the event and the organization behind it.
Talk to the event managers or whoever is in charge about what they'd like you to focus on.
If it's a regular event, find out what previous speakers have spoken about or ask folk who've been in the audience what has been successful and why.
Consider who is listening to you.
And now that you know more about the speech context you're ready to start thinking about what your commemorative speech topic could be.
Because this type of speech is more about honoring the qualities enabling a person, organization or group to achieve what they did, the speech is NOT merely a recital of 'did-this-and-then-did-that' facts.
Instead the facts, when they are recalled, are a backdrop used to demonstrate or illustrate the qualities being celebrated.
So in thinking about this, what themes or values will you focus on?
Use your knowledge of the event and the audience to guide your choice.
Any of the following themes are suitable.
Your next job is to select material to best illustrate the qualities you've chosen.
The answer to those three questions is YES.
The most satisfying speech draws from all three elements and combines them eloquently.
In summary, a great commemorative/tribute speech:
If you're looking for examples of people, events or speeches to inspire your commemorative speech topic choice you'll find a wonderful collection of resource links in the box below.