Tribute speech guide 

- how to prepare a sincere commemorative speech

A tribute speech belongs in a special category of speeches called commemorative. Its principal purpose is to inspire and celebrate; uniting listeners in sincere, heartfelt gratitude and admiration for its subject.

If you're been asked to prepare one and need to know more, read on.

Hands cupping a lit candle

You'll find what occasions are most likely to call for a tribute speech, their characteristics, how to begin the process of writing one, how to choose a topic and a section about eulogies or funeral speeches, (a special type of tribute speech), with links to examples.


What occasions call for a tribute speech?

A tribute speech may be delivered at any of the following celebrations:

Anniversaries

These may be family events for example, a 50th wedding anniversary or a milestone birthday, or they could be public ones, for example, celebrations marking historic events like Remembrance Day or the passing of a famous person.

Reunions

At a family reunion this form of speech may be given to honor its senior members. Similarly it will be an important part of the reunions of people initially brought together by work, sport, interests or vocation.

Memorial services or funerals

1940s photo of young woman with red rose that has dried out.

The eulogy you hear at a memorial service or funeral is a special type of tribute speech celebrating the life of the person who has passed away.

Awards

A tribute speech at an award presentation will honor the achievements of the award recipients. For example film, music or sports awards.

Weddings

Although thought of as 'wedding speeches', the best man, father-of-the-bride speeches and their variations, are all forms of tribute speeches.

Retirements

The tribute speech heard at a retirement celebration honors the retiree by acknowledging their service and contribution.

The characteristics of the speech

Whether the focus is a person,  or an event involving a  group of people, its characteristics are:

  • admiration and respect
  • a focus on positive qualities: perseverance, dedication, humility, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, sacrifice, service, kindness, humor ...
  • highlighting accomplishments and the difficulties overcome to achieve them
  • a reflection on the positive impact and contribution of the focal group or person on the lives of others
  • grateful acknowledgment of what we can learn from their example to take into the future


How to begin writing the speech

Red sign: creativity in progress

The first step in your process is finding out as much as you can about the occasion itself and then deciding on a topic, (if it hasn't already been decided for you).

You'll want to know:

  • who the audience is
  • whether you are the only speaker, or one in a series of speakers
  • how long you expected to speak for
  • whether the event is formal or informal
  • if there are any special requirements the organizers may have that need to be included in your speech

How to choose a topic

Generally the occasion chooses it for you!

If you're asked to speak at the celebration marking your Mother's 70th birthday or a similar event, then you know what the central topic is. What you'll need to decide is how to handle it or what angle to take.

Get some help to find the right topic

If it's not clear you'll find this page on how to select an inspiring tribute or commemorative speech topic extremely helpful. It walks you step by step through the process of finding a topic to suit your audience's needs and has a great selection of carefully picked links to help you research topic possibilities.

Get some help with planning and writing

There's a tribute speech template here that will be useful to help you plan the sections of your speech. Use it as a guide. (On the same page is a speech I wrote to honor my Mother. It follows the template.)

Or if you'd like more than an outline to help you, you'll find the entire process of writing a speech mapped out step by step in this how to write a speech guide.


Are you here because you've been asked to prepare a eulogy?

These links below will guide you through the process:

Lily of the valley - a flower frequently used in flowers for the bereaved.

Would you like to read a sample eulogy before you begin?

Reading others can be really useful in helping you decide what you want to achieve with your own speech.

Well known tribute speeches 

Here are three famous speeches, each illustrating the characteristics of a fine commemorative speech.

  1. Ronald Reagan's tribute for the crew of the Challenger Space Shuttle that exploded during its launch.
  2. Sen. Edward Kennedy's eulogy for his nephew J.F Kennedy Jr.
  3. Oprah Winfrey's eulogy for Rosa Parks.

Not-so well known tribute speeches

I am very fortunate to have a collection of not-so famous tribute speeches on write-out-loud.com. These are very special because they're by people probably similar to yourself who have been asked to write a speech about someone they've loved dearly. 

There are eulogies for mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends. All of them have been sent in to provide examples to help people who are trying to write.  Seeing how others have handled the task gives them the courage and confidence to begin.

These pages get thousands of visitors every week.

And lastly, here is that link to the commemorative speech for my mother.


PS

Do you need help with preparing to deliver your speech?

You'll find everything you need to help you give your speech confidently by visiting the site map .

There's tips on making and using cue cards, how to overcome fear or anxiety of public speaking, how use your voice well, and more.

If you're struggling for words you may like this offer ...

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