Special occasion public speech outline: wedding

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This speech will be, hypothetically, for a wedding, so please make that the topic of concentration.

· Your outline format is required to match this speech outline format attached exactly as presented.

·  I’m attaching a sample outline that follows the required format.

· You must include and underline THREE sources in your outline. Underline your three sources.

· Incorporate sources into the body of the speech as demonstrated in the outline sample.

  • Three Sources Required for Special Occasion Speech
    The Occasion Will Determine your Sources

    Examples:
    Sources for a Wedding, Graduation, Retirement, Birthday, etc,  speech would be informal:

    1. According to Uncle Bob, “Grandpa always preferred to go Fishing on cold days”

    2. According to my Mother, Grandma was a professional Roller Skater in the 1930’s

Speech Outline

I. Introduction

A. Attention Getter

B. Purpose “ to persuade, inform, demonstrate, etc.”

C. Central Idea – “state your thesis”

D. Preview Key Points

1. Point #1

2. Point #2

3. Point #3

II. Body of Speech

A. Key Point #1

1. Supporting Material

2. Supporting Material

B. Key Point #2

1. Supporting Material

2. Supporting Material

C. Key Point #3

1. Supporting Material

2. Supporting Material

III. Conclusion – review/summarize key points

I. Introduction
Hello my name is Scott Gordon. I am excited to talk with you today you to about my

career choice.

A. Attention Getter – ‘Carl Sagan, a famous astronomer/ strophysicist once stated

“somewhere, something wonderful incredible is waiting to known”
B. Purpose – My purpose today is to inform you about the career of an Astronaut
C. Central Idea/Thesis – Space exploration is a challenging and rewarding career

D. Key Points

#1 Astronaut Education

#2 Astronaut Training

#3 Astronaut Salaries and Benefits

II. Body of Speech
Key Point #1

1. Define NASA (an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
2. According to the 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, candidates with

advanced degrees are desired by NASA recruiters

Key Point #2

1. As reported in a December 2012 USA Today article, pilots need a minimum of

1,00 hours in a Jet as a Flight Commander in order to qualify to become and

astronaut. Many Astronauts have previously served in the Armed Forces

2. According to that same article, only 35 candidates are chosen each year out of

4,000 to 8,000 applicants

Key Point #3

1. According to the Career Page located on the NASA.Gov website, Astronauts

earn $65,00 to $85,000 per year
2. According to the same source, retired Astronauts have many career options

available to them in the Aeronautics and Engineering industries

III. Conclusion
In conclusion, I have told you about educational and professional requirements to

become an Astronaut. I have also told you about the salaries and benefits available.

I look forward to exploring new frontiers, and maybe new galaxies when I become an

Astronaut. Thank you for listening!

  • I. Introduction
  • II. Body of Speech
    • Key Point #1
    • Key Point #2
    • Key Point #3
  • III. Conclusion

17: SPECIAL OCCASION
SPEAKING

Juliann Scholl
Texas Tech University

1 10/13/2021

CHAPTER OVERVIEW
17: SPECIAL OCCASION SPEAKING

17.1: INTRODUCTION
17.2: BACKGROUND OF SPECIAL OCCASION SPEAKING
17.3: TYPES OF SPECIAL OCCASION SPEECHES
17.4: GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR SPECIAL OCCASION SPEECHES
17.5: CONCLUSION
17.6: ACTIVITIES AND GLOSSARY

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17.1: Introduction

1. Define and give an example of epideictic oratory
2. Explain the main purpose of special occasion speaking
3. Identify the eight main types of special occasion speeches and the key components of each of these speeches.
4. Understand the basic guidelines for delivering special occasion speeches
5. Prepare and present the various types of special occasion speeches

There are moments in our professional lives when we are called to bring people together in community, celebrate proud
moments, remember individuals who have left us, and show important others how much we appreciate them. These
opportunities call for the development and delivery of ceremonial or special occasion speeches. These speeches allow us to
congratulate, toast, celebrate, and say goodbye in creative and eloquent ways. Ceremonial speaking enables us to reinforce our
group identities, to show admiration and respect, and to inspire others. The ability to give a special occasion speech is a skill
that will prove valuable over the course of your entire professional and personal life.

In the first part of this chapter, you will learn the utility and relevance of ceremonial speaking in a variety of contexts—
professional, social, and personal. Next, a description, explanation and example of each of the various types of ceremonial
speeches are presented. Finally, you will be introduced to guidelines for developing and delivering effective ceremonial
speeches.

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.~ Oprah

chapter objectives

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17.2: Background of Special Occasion Speaking

epideictic oratory

Many organizational contexts offer opportunities for special occasion and ceremonial speaking. These organizational functions
help establishments mark important occurrences, celebrate successes, remember key figures, and commemorate those who are
no longer with the organization. Furthermore, special events help an organization define itself as well as help establish and
maintain a corporate identity— for organizational members, clients and key stakeholders. Special occasion speaking has also
been calledepideictic oratory, which is used to praise or blame, condemn or commend, and celebrate and give thanks (Osborn
& Osborn, 1994). For instance, President George W. Bush used epideictic oratory when he addressed the United States after
September 11, 2011, condemning the terrorist attacks. Epideictic oratory is also used anytime we are called to mourn the loss
of a loved one at a funeral, congratulate a recipient of an award, or toast a special occasion, such as a wedding or anniversary.

purpose of special occasion speeches
In your personal and professional life, you will likely have the opportunity to give at least one ceremonial speech to celebrate
an event or contribute to a company’s corporate image. Regardless of the occasion, epideictic or ceremonial speaking calls for
language that is arousing, clear, and inspiring. In addition, Osborn and Osborn (1994) suggest that language use and delivery
style should serve to magnify and identify. Magnificationmeans giving benefit to the audience, amplifying emotion, and
exceeding expectations. This technique involves promoting positivity and goodwill among the people gathered for the
occasion as well as helping to build the audience’s feelings toward the person honored or the reason for the
occasion.Identification involves creating familiarity and closeness. Special occasion speaking, among other things, helps build
community, and a speaker’s language and delivery style can serve to enhance feelings of togetherness.

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words. ~ Plautus

A special occasion or ceremonial speech, regardless of the level of formality, should have a purpose that is clear to the speaker
and the audience members. A ceremonial speech can do a variety of things, such as celebrate an event, commemorate a person,
entertain an audience, or inspire people (O’Hair, Stewart, & Rubenstein, 2001). Each type of ceremonial speaking occasion has
its unique considerations, and each speech needs to be adapted to the audience, the honored person(s), the social context, and
the event. This section covers several types of ceremonial speeches: speech of introduction, toast and roast, award
presentation, acceptance speech, keynote address, commencement address, commemorative speech or tribute, and after-dinner
speech.

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17.3: Types of Special Occasion Speeches

speech of introduction

A speech of introduction introduces the main speaker at an event and inspires the audience to listen to that speaker (O’Hair &
Stewart, 1999). Any speech of introduction needs to be brief. After all, the person making the introduction should not be the
focus of attention. The introductory speech usually has three components: (a) provide a brief backdrop or background of the
main speaker, (b) introduce the speaker’s topic, and (c) an invitation from the audience to warmly welcome the speaker. Here
is an example of a speech of introduction:

The person giving our keynote address is someone we all know and admire. Not only is Dr. Brian Garcia an alum of our
university and department, but he has gone on to make major contributions to our field. As one of our nation’s foremost
experts in end-of-life care and communication, Dr. Garcia has written over 50 journal articles and book chapters on this field.
We are privileged today to hear him speak on hospice care and the Hispanic population. Please join me in welcoming Dr.
Brian Garcia.

As the previous example illustrates, the speech of introduction is relatively brief. But the brevity might depend on how
familiar the audience is with the speaker’s topic (Adler & Elmhorst, 2010). If the topic is not well-known, you might need to
take a few minutes toward the end of the speech to elaborate more on the topic. Also, it is important to enhance the speaker’s
credibility. In the previous example, the person introducing Dr. Garcia reminds the audience that he is an alum of the
university (establishes common ground) and that he is a distinguished academic and writer.

If you are introducing a speaker, be sure to do your homework and find out as much as you can about this person; the last thing
you want to do is give inaccurate information as you’re introducing him or her! See if you can meet the person ahead of time,
whether it is in person or over the phone. You’ll also want to be culturally sensitive (Adler & Elmhorst, 2010). For instance,
many people outside the United States prefer to be called by their titles, such as “Professor.” Also, be aware of any gender bias
that might influence how you introduce the person, such as calling a man “Dr.” or “Mr.” while referring to a woman of similar
status by her first name.

toast
A toast is a brief tribute to a person or event (O’Hair & Stewart, 1999). A toast also allows the speaker to acknowledge
accomplishments and express best wishes for the future (Adler & Elmhorst, 2010). Besides being brief (about 30 to 60
seconds), a toast is a speech delivered at a well- chosen time, which is when everyone is present, such as when guests are
seated for a dinner or when everyone has a drink in hand.

Many people are nervous at the thought of giving a toast. Therefore, some preparation and practice can help make the event
more enjoyable and memorable. Anyone called upon to give a toast should prepare ahead of time. Having in mind one or two
things that set the person or event apart is an effective strategy, as well as keeping a positive tone and staying brief. It is
advised that you practice in front of a mirror or in front of a friend to become more comfortable with the toast.

We lift our glasses to Ms. Becky McPherson, who has devoted 20 years to our organization. Not only have we benefited from
her tireless hours building this company, but there is no way to measure how much she has touched each of our lives. So, it is
Becky McPherson that we humbly toast this evening.

If you are tapped to deliver a toast, take some things into consideration to avoid any awkward or cringe-worthy moments. For
instance, be sober when delivering the toast. Alcohol makes one sluggish and less inhibited; you do not want people to
remember you for the way you slurred during the speech or for anything inappropriate you might have said. Also, when it
doubt, leave it out. In other words, if you are debating about whether to share a humorous story, it is best not to share it at all.

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There is the chance that some members of your audience might not find it funny or tasteful. Finally, while a toast should be
prepared, try your best to come across as spontaneous. A toast should not appear to be memorized; neither should you deliver
a toast from a manuscript. Plan your key points, but use your impromptu skills to deliver the words in a conversational,
informal manner.

roast
A roast is a particular kind of toast that is humorous and pokes fun at the

honored person in a friendly way. A roast might be given for someone who is moving away or has achieved noteworthy
success in her or his lifetime. It is generally considered a high honor to be roasted, and in most cases a roast is reserved for
individuals who have achieved respect and a noteworthy reputation. One such individual is President George W. Bush, who
was roasted by Stephen Colbert during the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Within this excerpt is Colbert’s jab at
Vice President Dick Cheney:

Wow! Wow, what an honor! The White House Correspondents’ dinner. To actually—to sit here at the same table with my hero,
George W. Bush, to be this close to the man. I feel like I’m dreaming. Somebody pinch me. You know what? I’m a pretty sound
sleeper; that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face. Is he really not here tonight? Damn it! The one guy who
could have helped. (Kurtzman, 2012).

A roast can contain tributes, admiration, comedic insults, and outlandish stories that are true or untrue. There is usually a
roastmaster— someone who serves as master of ceremonies—and other individuals can take part in the roasting. It is often the
case that those involved in the roasting might expect to bear the brunt of a few of the jokes.

The recipient or person being honored deserves careful consideration. While a roast is intended to honor a person, the speaker
should know for certain that the roastee is someone who can take a joke and show good humor when receiving humorous
criticism. Regardless of the jokes and comedic insults used, the ultimate goal is to pay tribute to the person being honored, and
a roaster should never lose sight of that objective. One also should be aware of effective and appropriate uses of humor in such
a context, and more about humor will be discussed later in this chapter.

I like to praise and reward loudly, to blame quietly. ~ Catherine the Great

speech to present an award
Presenting an award warrants a presentational speech, during which a speaker presents a person with an award or prize. The
primary purpose of this speech is to give recognition to the recipient and his or her accomplishments pertaining to that specific
award. While presentational speeches might vary in length and content, they all should contain a few key elements. First, the
person presenting the award should not only highlight the merits of the award recipient, but also point out the purpose and
significance of the award being given (O’Hair & Stewart, 1999). Another element of the presentation is to personalize the
speech to make the award and event more meaningful for the recipient and the audience. Here is an example of a
presentational speech:

Our next award is the Outstanding Graduate Research Award, which goes to the graduate student who has made the most
significant contribution to our department. The recipient of this award certainly deserves this honor because he does today
what others do not in order to achieve tomorrow what others will not. Therefore, I proudly present this year’s Outstanding
Graduate Research Award to Jeremiah Polk.

Adler and Elmhorst (2010) provide some additional guidelines for the best presentational speeches. First, make sure the
recipient’s name comes at the appropriate time. If the recipient is known to everyone, then the name should be mentioned right
away. If the announcement is a surprise, then it is better to hold off mentioning the recipient’s name until the end, which you

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saw in the previous example. Also, let the audience know how the recipient met—and even surpassed—the criteria for the
award. You should also make sure the focus of attention is on the recipient, not on the one presenting the award. Finally, to
facilitate a smooth transfer of the award to the recipient, the presenter might want to hold the award in his or her left hand
while using the right to shake the recipient’s hand.

acceptance speech
The presentation of an award is usually followed by an acceptance speech, which the recipient delivers upon immediate receipt
of the award. This speech gives the recipient an opportunity to show appreciation for the award as well as humility and grace
(O’Hair & Stewart, 1999). Such a speech should be prepared ahead of time, if possible. In the preparation process, the
recipient will have a general idea of who to thank, which should not be overlooked during such an event. Here is Jeremiah
Polk’s acceptance speech:

Thank you very much for presenting me with the Outstanding Graduate Research Award. I want to thank the professors on the
award committee for selecting me, and the other faculty for their encouragement and support. I especially thank Dr. Jane
Griffin for her mentorship and belief in my abilities as a graduate student and an aspiring researcher. I will remember this
honor and strive to be deserving of it as I complete my doctoral program. Again, thank you all for this incredible honor.

The previous example has a particular organizational structure (Adler & Elmhorst, 2010). First, the recipient expresses his
sincere appreciation. If the award was unexpected, then he might also express a sincere level of surprise. Second, he
acknowledges those who contributed to or made the award possible. He also thanks other people who have had an impact on
his success. Third, he indicates how the award will make a difference in the future (i.e., it will make him work harder as he
continues with his academic program). Finally, the recipient closes his speech by expressing thanks again.

Each day offers us the gift of being a special occasion if we can simply learn that as well as giving, it is blessed to receive with
grace and a grateful heart. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

keynote address

The keynote address is a speech that represents the essential or common theme of a convention, conference, or other large
gathering. Most conferences, expositions, or conventions are usually organized around a central idea, and the keynote address
is what summarizes the central message revolving around the general theme. For example, organizers of a conference with the
theme “Looking Forward—Looking Back” might want the keynote speaker to celebrate the history of that organization,
recount its past accomplishments, predict future directions of the organization, and invite audience members to embrace the
future mission and vision. Similar to this sample structure, most keynote speeches contain common elements.

The person giving the keynote address is usually a person who has earned a national or international reputation within his or
her professional field. Such a person would likely be invited to speak because of her or his expertise or particular claim to
fame, which would be alluded to in the speech. In addition, the keynote speaker is wise to be mindful of the conference theme
and to incorporate that theme into the speech. Regardless of the conference theme, the typical speech might allude to such
topics as organizational growth, team building, goals and aspirations, leadership, change, or achievements (Speech Topics

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Helps, Advice & Ideas, 2005). Some of these themes are evident in Dr. Neal Lane’s (1996) keynote address during the 50
anniversary celebration of Cornell University’s School of Applied and Engineering Physics:

When we look across science and engineering, we can see . . . stories and subplots developing, both in terms of the excitement
they generate and in terms of their potential impact on society. These don’t always generate banner headlines about little
green men or microbes. But they nevertheless hold the potential to revolutionalize how we remedy social ills and spark
economic growth. In fact, there is wide agreement that we are entering an era where science, engineering, and technology will
exert greater influence on daily life than at any time in human history.

commemorative speech and tribute

The commencement speech—which is a type of keynote speech—is given to mark the occasion of a school’s graduation
ceremony during which diplomas are awarded to graduating students. The commencement speech is celebratory in nature in
that it marks an important milestone in the graduates’ lives. At the same time it can be a call to action for its audience (Fly
Little Bird, 2007). Many commencement audiences may appreciate a speech that is relatively brief and to the point, and many
speakers provide practical, yet memorable, advice. For instance, Billie Jean King once said, “Find a mentor and be a mentor.
Give back. And when people tell you not to believe in your dreams, and they say, “Why?” say, “Why not?” (Wisdom Engine,
2006).

This type of speech is usually given by a person who is well-known in the community or by someone who has achieved
national or international recognition for her or his contributions to society. The speaker might be a politician, an alumnus from
the institution, a famous speaker, or other noteworthy figure. The speaker might be chosen by the school administration or by
the graduating students themselves.

On one level, a commencement speech can bring attention to certain social or political issues of the day, such as HIV/AIDS,
economic inequality, or education. Additionally, such speeches typically lay out paths the audience can take beyond their
educational years (e.g., giving one’s time, taking on important causes), as well as what specific tools for change are needed for
an individual to make an impact (e.g., use of the Internet, acquiring and disseminating information). Finally, commencement
speeches often touch on aspects that contribute to a good life; such examples might include finding one’s passion, showing
compassion to others, and appreciating diversity. In general, the commencement speech emphasizes celebration and looking
ahead toward the future. Lisa Kudrow, in her 2010 address to the graduating class at Vassar College, encourages her audience
to look to the future with a purpose of finding oneself:

I did actually hear from a little more than two of you that, because I went here, you wanted to know about my experiences
after graduating and I understand that because the twenties are that time in your life when (this is not a joke) you’re really
getting acquainted with your own adult self and seeing how you respond to self-doubt when there’s so much seemingly at
stake. So, let me reassure you. It’s not supposed to be easy, but it doesn’t have to be torture. You’re supposed to have moments
of uncertainty about which path to take because the 20’s are full of crossroads.

th

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commemorative speech and tribute
Commemorative speeches and tributes are speeches that pay special accolades to an occasion, extraordinary person, event,
idea, or monument. The purpose or scope of this speech is to reflect the emotions felt by the audience as well as underscore the
reasons for the speaking event. Delivering a tribute and commemorative speech involves careful attention to language. These
speeches are intended to inspire the audience, and the use of the richness of language should serve to evoke the appropriate
emotions within the audience as well as the honored person(s).

One way to evaluate your own reputation is to think about what would be said of you at your eulogy. ~ Brian Koslow

Tributes and commemorative speeches have certain characteristics. First, they are short and eloquent (Letteri, 1997). In most
cases, this speech should be one to five minutes long, which means the words should be chosen carefully and efficiently for
impact. Second, these speeches are written to anticipate the emotional needs of the audience. There is a difference between the
need to be festive and the need to grieve, and the speech should contain language that conveys the appropriate feelings. Rather
than focus on a great deal of information about the person, event, or thing being honored, the speech should make reference to
the emotions of the audience and respect those emotions— whether directly or indirectly. When the speaking occasion is
honoring a person, the speech’s content should contain a balance between the professional and personal accomplishments of
the honoree. While the speech should emphasize the person’s professional work, his or her personal activities (e.g., family life,
community involvement) also warrant attention. Russell Crowe demonstrates this balance as he commemorates the late Steven
Irwin, the television personality famously known as the Crocodile Hunter:

Good morning everybody. Firstly, to Terri and all of Steve’s family, from my family to yours, our deepest sympathies and
condolences. I think this memorial should be a joyful one, and not mournful one. We, after all, have to keep in mind who we
are here to celebrate, and what he would have preferred. I hope somebody will speak today of the specifics of what Steve
achieved as a conservationist, but all I can do today is talk directly to my friend, my mate, Steven. Your passing has suspended
reality for all of us. It was way too soon, and completely unfair on all accounts. I know as humble as you always were, that you
would still be pleased to know that the world sends its love and that people all over this planet have been grieving. We’ve all
lost a friend, we’ve lost a champion, and we’re gonna take some time adjust to that. I’m in New York, mate – the big city – and
you have been headline news on CNN for a week. There are not many zookeepers who would command that attention, mate.
And all that means is that you got your message across. You got the word out there. And you were heard. And you will be
remembered (Famous Speeches and Speech Topics, 2008).

after-dinner speech
The after-dinner speech is a unique kind of special occasion speech. An after-dinner speech has as its general purpose to
entertain, and yet informs an audience about one or more particular issues. These dual roles can make the after-dinner speech a
challenge, but with skill and practice, a well-received speech. Mark Twain made this type of speech very popular in his day,
speaking at many dinner events. These dinners were very lengthy, and were followed by several hours of humorous speeches
(Patout, 1978). Such events still occur today, and are often scheduled before, during, or after a professional or civic meeting
(O’Hair et al., 2001) where a meal might be served.

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. ~ Mark Twain

A well-prepared, rehearsed, and delivered after-dinner speech can make a significant mark on the audience and occasion, all
the while using humor to make a serious point. The best speeches are usually tailored to the audience and occasion, have a
thesis statement or idea, include claims that have support, and of course, incorporate humor. When used well in an after-dinner
speech, humor can teach, entertain, and perhaps change the way people look at an issue. Used poorly, however, humor can hurt

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your message beyond repair and diminish your credibility. Due to the nature of humor in public speaking, there are several
issues to keep in mind. First, the topic or theme of the speech should relate to the occasion of the event. Relevant speeches
include references to the event’s purpose or cause and perhaps some key people involved:

I am grateful for the opportunity to address you all this evening. When I asked your conference planner how long my speech
should be, she said, “You can speak as long as you want, but the rest of us will be leaving around nine.” . . . Before I say
anything more, I have been asked by the facilities manager to remind you that the sign in the men’s restroom saying “Wet
Floor” should serve as a warning, not an instruction . . .

Indeed, after-dinner speeches are intended to be funny, but avoid turning the event into a stand-up comedy routine. A stand-up
routine is merely a string of jokes that are more speaker- centered rather than audience-centered (Hamilton, 2002). On the
contrary, an after-dinner speech has clear organization, a polished delivery, and a clearly articulated theme. Without a clear
organizational pattern, the audience will have difficulty understanding the serious point made with the speech.

A common mistake some after- dinner speakers make is to come across as a comedian, taking on styles and mannerisms that
are not natural. After- dinner speakers should avoid styles and forms of delivery that are not their own and with which they do
not feel comfortable. In other words, the speech and humor used should be consistent with the speaker’s persona.

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear
less the label of “crackpot” than the stigma of conformity. ~ Thomas John Watson, Sr.

There is the possibility that the speech will touch on serious or controversial issues. After all, the after- dinner speech sets a
social agenda (O’Hair et al., 2001), often conveying a speaker’s stance on an issue. Skilled after-dinner speakers understand
this, and they are observant of the audience’s comfort levels. If the theme or occasion is a very somber one, such as
commemorating the lost lives of the Civil Rights movement, the speaker should keep her or his humorous remarks modest so
as not to seriously offend (Hamilton, 2002). Even when the purpose of the speech is more heavily weighted on agenda setting
rather than entertainment, it should still be a celebration of the occasion.

In keeping with an audience’s comfort level, an after-dinner speech should fit their mood and expectations. If the audience is
in the mood to have fun or to be entertained, then the after- dinner speech might be well received. The mood or attitude of the
audience will influence how they receive or respond to your jokes. If the speech isn’t well-matched to the audience, even your
best-told and most clever jokes will fall flat.

Brevity is the soul of wit. ~ William Shakespeare

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17.4: General Guidelines for Special Occasion Speeches

keep it short

With careful planning and a certain amount of practice, you can certainly deliver a ceremonial speech that will make a
memorable impact. These guidelines might help make the planning and rehearsal process a little easier for you. First, if it’s
possible, keep the speech short (Perlman, 1997). More important than your speech is the occasion that you’re commemorating;
you don’t want to overshadow the event that others have gathered to celebrate. For instance, if you are introducing a keynote
speaker or presenting an award, avoid going into a “shopping list” of all the honoree’s accomplishments. In some cases they
might be too numerous to list. Also consider how familiar your audience is with the honoree or recipient; he or she might be so
well known that it might not be the best use of the audience’s time to recite a litany of the recipient’s accomplishments. Even
longer speeches (e.g., commencement or keynote) shouldn’t be too long as audience members will not appreciate having to
hear an address that seems to go on for a long time. In general, keep the current occasion in mind and focus primarily on the
award or recognition that motivated the occasion.

acknowledge the obvious
Another thing to keep in mind is to “finesse the obvious” (Perlman, 1997). One might take this advice to mean to not to insult
the intelligence of the audience. In some cases, the audience will be very familiar with the main speaker or recipient—who
might be a well-known alumnus, actor, or politician; however, it would be insulting not to acknowledge what makes such a
person noteworthy. Therefore, you might say something like, “As we all know . . .” or “It goes without saying that . . .” in
order to point out the apparent when acknowledging well-known achievements that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

stay positive
Regardless of the occasion or speech, stay positive, even if it is to commemorate a sad occasion or remember the loss of an
individual. Perlman (1997) suggests taking every opportunity to compliment the speaker. Humorous anecdotes are generally
okay if they’re positive. This guideline also applies to roasts. Even if you are able to insert a few embarrassing anecdotes, the
best roasts start and end on a positive note.

A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life. ~ William Arthur
Ward

Table Common Types of Verbal Humor

Anecdote: Interesting stories told to help the speaker make a point

Aside: A statement added as an after-thought, appearing as though the
speaker said something that reminded him or her of the aside

Banter: Good-natured teasing done back-and-forth with another person,
sometimes with an audience member

Blendword The combination of two words to make a new word;e.g. “murse” for
“man” and “purse”

Blunder Witty way of making a mistake or verbal faux pas

Conundrum A word puzzle that has a pun for an answer; e.g. cows wearing bells
because their horns do not work

Freudian Slip A humorous statement that appears to comespontaneously, but really
reflects the speaker’ssubconscious

Hyperbole Excessive exaggeration

Irony Words or statements used to reflect the complete opposite of their
original meaning

Joke A short anecdote that has a funny twist at the end

Parody A humorous version of another writing or speech

17.4.1

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Table Common Types of Verbal Humor

Recovery The appearance of a blunder that the speaker quickly corrects, in an
attempt to save himself or herself

Repartee Clever or witty retorts, often in the form of insults

Satire Humor that is critical, or makes fun of something

Situational Humor Humor that comes from the speaker’s own personalexperiences

Understatement Intentionally down-sizing something to make it appear smaller or less
severe

use humor carefully

The topic of humor itself warrants careful discussion. Humor can find its way into almost any special occasion speech, and it’s
a good way to keep the audience interested in your speech— when used effectively (Hamilton, 2002). Humor is more than just
telling jokes—it is really about supplementing your message as well as really driving your point home, so to speak. Humor can
be appealing to both speaker and audience because it creates a sense of immediacy and psychological closeness. It also
facilitates a common bond between speaker and audience, which helps the audience identify even more with the topic and
content of the speech.

If you decide to use humor, you should make this decision carefully. While everyone has the potential to be funny and to use
humor in an effective way, some occasions lend themselves to humor more than others. Furthermore, some speakers may
doubt their abilities to pull off humor in certain situations or with specific audiences. If you’re asking yourself, “Should I use
humor?” you should consider whether the situation lends itself to some humor or laughter, if you might undermine your own
credibility, or if you even have the comfort level of the timing to pull off the humor attempt (Audrieth, 1998). People who
naturally the see the humor in situations and can look at life in a humorous light will likely be able to use humor effectively in
a public speech. This ability can prove to be a tremendous asset to a public speaker. However, it takes a good deal more than
just some natural ability to be effective. As Audrieth advises, “If deep, deep down, you know that you are a klutz when it
comes to delivering the punch line, if you can’t seem to get jokes right, then consider carefully your decision to use humor.”

The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart. ~ St. Jerome

When learning to use humor, speakers should understand the importance of nonverbal delivery (Hamilton, 2002). For one
thing, do not give off the impression that you expect laughter or smiling in response to any particular remark. If you deliver a
clever line and stand there with an expectant smile, you are going to feel and look foolish if no one responds. Furthermore,
some audience members may find it less arrogant or more endearing if you can deliver a punch line without looking like you
expect a response. Nonverbal delivery also involves a sense of comic timing. Being able to deliver funny lines without having
to adjust your overall delivery is a skill that is highly valued. Timing also means not having to step in and out of a humorous
line. In other words, try not to show a difference in tone between the funny and not-so- funny segments of your speech. When
incorporating these strategies, remember that you will get better withpractice. Even the best humorists practice their speeches
to polish their delivery.

Of course, nonverbal humor should not stand alone. An after-dinner speaker should have a good understanding and command
of various verbal humor forms (Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, 2007) and plays on words. The idea here is that the verbal
and nonverbal cues supplement each other to convey the most appropriate humor, and using humor as a verbal strategy can
convey what visual humor usually cannot. For instance, it may be difficult or impossible to convey irony or contradiction
through nonverbal cues alone. Using language to point out ironies and contradictory situations in life can remind listeners of
what makes us human (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Tretheway, 2007), as well as make a serious point in a subtle way. Additional
forms of verbal strategies include puns, hyperboles, anecdotes, and others that can tell a story or use language to convey
humor images. Some of the more popular forms can be found in Table .

I’m not funny. What I am is brave. ~ Lucille Ball

17.4.1

17.4.1

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17.5: Conclusion
Special occasion speaking encompasses a number of different speeches that require particular attention to an occasion, event,
or person. Such speeches are intended to inspire audiences, celebrate an event, commemorate a person, and/or entertain.
Special occasion speeches should reflect the mood of the audience and the occasion that brings people together. This chapter
discussed speeches of introduction, toasts and roasts, presentational speeches, keynote addresses, commencement speeches,
commemorative speeches and tributes, and after-dinner speeches. After-dinner speeches in particular are arguably the most
challenging because they require planning, organization, and timing on the part of the speaker. But with some general
guidelines—keeping it short, finessing the obvious, staying positive, and using appropriate forms of humor, the special
occasion speech will have a lasting impact on the audience and the occasion.

There are two things that are more difficult than making an after- dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you
and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you. ~ Winston Churchill

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17.6: Activities and Glossary

Review questions

1. What is the purpose of a special occasion speech?

2. Discuss the influence of epideictic speaking on what we know about special occasion speaking today.

3. Generate a definition and purpose for each type of special occasion speech.

4. Compare and contrast presenting an award with receiving an award.

5. What do you think are the most important guidelines for an effective after-dinner speech?

6. Why is it a good idea to keep a special occasion speech short (whenever possible)?

7. What does it mean to “finesse the obvious” in a special occasion speech?

8. What should be the main purpose of humor in a special occasion speech? What steps can you take to use humor effectively?

Activities

1. Find a partner and construct a role play of an awards event. One partner will prepare a speech presentation for a fictitious
award, and the other partner will prepare a speech accepting the fictitious award. Give the two speeches back-to-back for the
class.

2. Find a sample commencement address online (You can consult the list of web resources listed on the chapter home page).
Bring a copy of the address to class and determine which of the following components below are contained in the sample.

A. Is celebratory in nature

B. It marks a milestone on graduates’ lives

C. Provides a call to action for its audience

D. Gives practical and/or memorable advice

E. Draws attention to social or political issues of the day

F. Lays out paths the audience can take beyond graduation

G. Addresses tools for change needed to make an individual impact

H. Illustrates factors that contribute to a good life

3. In class, get into small groups (about 3 to 5 people) and brainstorm a list of famous people—alive or dead—who can be the
subject of a commemorative or tribute speech. For each individual listed, generate at least two characteristics that should be
acknowledged in the speech.

4. Suppose you are called upon to give a toast or tribute speech to someone you believe is not deserving. You can think of a
fictitious or real person. Discuss how you would go about preparing and delivering this speech. Also discuss how you would
still be true to your own principles as well as conduct yourself in an ethical and professional manner.

5. Suppose you have a guest coming to speak to your class. Prepare a speech of introduction for this person. What are this
person’s attributes? What would be the topic of this person’s guest lecture, and how would you incorporate that into your
speech?

Glossary

Acceptance Speech

Also called the speech to accept an award, the acceptance speech gives the recipient an opportunity to express appreciation for
the award as well as humility and grace.

After-dinner Speech

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During the after-dinner speech, audiences expect to be entertained by a speech that informs them about a particular issue. This
speech sometimes uses humor to make a serious point.

Ceremonial Speech

A ceremonial speech includes one of several kinds that celebrate an occasion. More specifically, a ceremonial speech may
introduce a speaker, entertain an audience, or inspire people. Another term for ceremonial speech is special occasion speech.

Commemorative or Tribute Speech

A commemorative or tribute speech is one that pays special accolades to an occasion, extraordinary person, event, idea, or
monument. Such a speech is intended to reflect the emotions of the audience.

Commencement Speech

The commencement speech is given by a well- known person of local, national, or international acclaim to mark a university
or secondary school graduation ceremony.

Epideictic Speech

This is a ceremonial speech intended to praise or blame.

Identification

A technique used in ceremonial speaking to enhance feelings of familiarity and closeness.

Keynote Address

The keynote address represents the keynote of a larger idea taking place at a conference or exposition usually organized
around a central theme.

Magnification

A technique in ceremonial speaking used to give benefit to the audience, amplify emotion, and exceed audience expectations.

Presentational Speech

Also called a speech to present an award, the presentational speech serves to highlight the merits of the award recipient and to
point out the purpose and significance of the award being given.

Roast

A roast is a variation of the toast in which the speaker pays tribute to a person by poking fun at her or him in a friendly way.

Special Occasion Speech

A special occasion speech includes one of several kinds that celebrate an occasion. More specifically, it might introduce a
speaker, entertain an audience, or inspire people. Another term for special occasion speech is ceremonial speech.

Speech of Introduction

A speech of introduction is a brief presentation used to introduce the main speaker of an event and to inspire the audience to
listen to that speaker.

Toast

A toast is a brief tribute to a person or event.

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