How to write a commemorative speech outline

How to write a commemorative speech outline

You would imagine writing a commemorative speech outline would be pretty straightforward, right? More so if the subject is either a loved one or something close to your heart. But somehow, it’s not that easy because the key purpose of a captivating commemorative speech is to sway emotions and captivate an audience. Thus, unless you’re a wordsmith or possess unbridled creativity, crafting a meaningful commemorative speech requires work.

To further illustrate this, sample an excerpt from the first paragraph of Mark Anthony’s tribute speech in ‘Julius Caesar,’ a play written by William Shakespeare in 1599. ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is often interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar.’ This commemorative speech on a famous person is hailed as remarkable because the speaker inspired and convinced the audience of his viewpoint amid a highly strenuous situation.

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commemorative speech outline


The writing of a commemorative speech requires a mastery of the topic or subject at hand. To be effective, it should win hearts, souls, and minds and be laden with positivity, hope, inspiration, or values that resonate with the audience. It should also honor the subject, echo with emotion, and hold the audience captive from start to end.

It sounds daunting, but you can learn how to write a commemorative speech with ease and skill. Read on as this article shares factual tips and information to guide you.

What is a commemorative speech?

A commemorative or ceremonial speech is a message of gratitude, tribute, or praise to a specific subject. The speech is given on a particular date set aside to remember and celebrate the subject’s accomplishments.

Its objective isn’t specific to sharing information but to honor the subject, inspire the audience, and preserve a record for posterity. Remember, a commemorative speech is a recollection of the past that pays homage to the present and reflects on the future. Commemorative speech examples include testimonials, eulogies, toasts, or acceptance speeches.

What makes an awe-inspiring commemorative speech?

While it’s an honor to write or make a commemorative speech, your sole duty is to engage the audience and enable it to celebrate the subject. Below is what you need to know about what makes an engaging commemorative speech. 

Content flow

To ensure you have compelling content for your commemorative speech, see that it’s understandable. You’ll achieve this by creating a commemorative speech outline to give it structure and flow. In addition, inject some creativity and humor so that it’s not dull.

Tone and wording

Your tone and wording should rely on the appropriate general mood. Find out whether your commemorative speech should strike a humorous, somber, respectful, or festive mood. What’s more, the tone and wording should invoke a sensory journey. There are words, style of language, and manner of speech you can use to gather emotions. 

Delivery style

While speaking, make eye contact with the audience. Don’t make a bland reading or recital; use word variations to maintain a logical flow. Your facial expression should also match the mood.

Hand gestures should be well thought out and not any aimless flailing of hands. Maintain an adequate rate, pause where necessary, and speak with enthusiasm. Convey your message with fitting emotion, respect, and sincerity. Let it also be evident that you feel honored to make the speech. 


Besides creativity and humor, highlight societal values that resonate with the audience like courage, justice, dignity, and more. This is because people want to draw inspiration from subjects, they deem to uphold the adages of what is good and right. As you develop the commemorative speech, emphasize this aspect since it’s the primary purpose of the speech.

Give hope

Commemorative speeches tend to be celebratory; however, they’re also valuable for sharing positive and empowering messages. No matter the type of commemorative speech, include content that gives the audience hope for the future.

You can do this by ensuring your speech bears the hallmarks of masterful storytelling. Using stories skillfully will immerse the audience into the core of your message.

Ensure relevance

Even with the quotes, stories, and other interesting tidbits that you’ll weave into the

commemorative speech, remember to tie into a collective reality. The audience has a connection to the subject, so include shared memory, story, or something specific that almost everyone can relate to. Make sure you leave a lasting impression on the audience. 

How to start a commemorative speech

When preparing to write a commemorative speech, your first consideration should be the content. As it means you have a sufficient grasp of the topic or subject. What will prove most valuable in the end is your ability to communicate with clarity the subject’s accomplishments. Below are the initial steps to help you strike the right balance.

  1. Review your connection or relationship and that of the audience to the subject. First, understand why you’re writing or giving the tribute speech, for instance. Why you? What of the audience, who are they, what’s their connection to the subject, and what are their expectations? Your understanding of these details will ensure you curate and deliver excellent content.
  2. Focus on how to relay the subject’s positive attributes in the best way. One effective approach to a sure win is to prepare an excellent commemorative speech outline, followed by presentation and delivery. 
  3. Further to the above point, write down the most incredible memories you have of the subject. Research deeply by speaking to other people who may have similar experiences. Identifying relatable content will also enable you to develop suitable topics. 
  4. Do thorough fact-checking of your content. If you have to run it by several people, do so. Don’t offend the audience or water down your speech’s intent by not having factual details about the subject.

Literary tools for your commemorative speech

Something else to consider in speech writing is figures of speech or figurative language. It’s essential in captivating your audience. If you’d like to know how to apply it, here are some standard figures of speech to sample in your commemorative speech assignment. 


If you’d like to explain something by giving a colorful comparison or symbolism that’s easy to understand use a metaphor. For example, if you want to honor a courageous person, say ‘Henry was a lion.’  


Unlike a metaphor, a simile compares two unlike items to make a description. For instance, to emphasize someone’s goodness, you can say, ‘Esther was like a star.’ 


Also known as parallel structure, parallelism uses phrases, words, or clauses with similar grammatical structures in a sentence. It helps create readable and understandable content. Consider these; 

Incorrect parallelism: I had to wash, iron, and do the cooking before going shopping.

Correct parallelism: I had to wash, iron, and cook before going shopping. 


Proper use in the appropriate context makes repetition useful in your speech writing to make the audience grasp your message and savor the message. Think of Martin Luther’s speech ‘I have a dream that made a repetition of the famous phrase severally to rally the audience to his cause.


In speech writing, an antithesis is a literary tool that pairs very opposite or contrasting ideas in a parallel grammatical structure; for effective results, use it in short bursts to avoid losing authenticity. For example, see how Charles Dickens deployed it in a Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” 


A pun is a popular tool used by literature and speechwriter to induce humor or to provoke thought. It’s a play at words that exploits their meanings. For example, ‘make like a tree and leave’ or ‘there was a fork in the road.’


When you use personification, you assign human qualities to non-human or non-living objects to emphasize a point. For instance, ‘May the road rise up to meet you’ or ‘May the sun smiles down on her.’ These personifications serve to invoke emotion. 


Hyperbole is the act of using extreme exaggeration to emphasize a particular feature or quality. This method stirs up the reader’s emotions, be they of happiness or sadness. For instance, ‘He was as skinny as a toothpick,’ or ‘Tom ran faster than the wind.’ 


An understatement downplays a situation or outcome in reaction to an event. When something terrible happens, readers expect a dramatic response and vice versa. An example of an understatement is. ‘Despite the assault of heavy gunfire, Mike rescued all thirty guests in ten minutes.


A paradox is a statement that’s odd or contradictory but contains some truth or makes sense. To illustrate this, consider the statement, less is more. Another one that’s a real brain teaser is; ‘Youth is wasted on the young.


An oxymoron connects two opposite ideas to create an exciting effect. Think of the oxymoron in this sentence, ‘The troops exchanged friendly fire.’ or ‘They made an accurate estimate.’ They’re especially ideal when you want to create a little drama or capture attention.

These are just a few of the commonly used figures of speech that you can incorporate in commemorative speech assignments.

How to write a commemorative speech outline

Since you’ve compiled content for the speech and have an idea of communicating with clarity, what’s next? The information you’ve gathered needs to be structured in a textual arrangement or outline to give it flow. There are two outlines to use when developing a commemorative speech outline.

The preparation outline

The purpose of the preparation outline is to help you prepare a rough draft for the final commemorative speech manuscript. Rely on it to refine the overall pattern and flow of your speech. To be specific, use it to refine the following vital elements.

  • Your objective (s)

Be clear on the purpose of your commemorative speech. It could be to; persuade your audience or celebrate an achievement or milestone. Whatever it is, stating it will ensure you remain on track with messaging. 

  • Thesis statement

A thesis statement is a central idea for your commemorative speech essay. It summarizes your content in a single sentence paragraph and is also the essence of your introduction.

  • Label critical sections

Labeling the salient parts of your speech ensures you prioritize the core content of your speech. You’ll, therefore, not spend time on anything that’s not contributing to a meaningful speech. It also provides a marker to help you locate where you are when speaking.

  • Display your main points and sub-points in full sentences

Further to the above point, don’t use vague labels as this won’t help you view the full content of your speech. Instead, use full sentences to capture details that aid in the development of further ideas and to avoid omitting valuable information.

  • Include transitions, internal summaries, and internal previews

Besides figurative language, other literary tools like transitions, internal summaries, and internal previews are used to connect ideas in a speech or writing. They’re pretty helpful in ensuring a decent flow of content.

The speaking outline

The second outline is the speaking outline or the commemorative speech manuscript you’ll use to read or refer to the final speech. Unlike the preparation outline, this version is brief and captures critical words and phrases to prompt your accurate delivery plus supporting materials. Remember, due to its brevity; you can transfer it to index cards for easy reference when speaking. 

Further to finalizing your commemorative speech manuscript, below is the commemorative speech outline format to use:


 Indicate with clarity what your speech aims to accomplish. For instance:

  • To celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday anniversary.
  • A special dedication to my law professor for his selfless attributes.
  • A memorial tribute to my father.

Thesis statement

 Write a summary of the key points to cover in your speech. An example of how to write this would be;

  • ‘Today is a monumental day for me because I want to tell you why my mother is my hero.’ 
  • ‘Friends and family, today I would like to dedicate some time to celebrate my law professor….’
  • ‘I’d like to pay a special tribute to my late father for being my inspiration. He is my icon because he taught me almost every valuable thing I know today.


This is the start of your commemorative speech essay, where it’s imperative to capture your audience’s attention or lose it forever. It should be brief, no more than three sentences that last for less than five minutes. So, begin with an authoritative, attention-grabbing opening. It could be as simple as describing what the speech is about or highlighting a remarkable accomplishment by the subject.

Make a credibility step by introducing yourself, stating your connection with the subject, followed by your thesis statement. Use figurative language or humor to connect with the audience by letting your mutual admiration for the subject come through. Remember to also exert the wording and tone at every turn for heightened effect. Further to this, here are some effective methods to aid in the delivery of a catchy introduction.

  • Use a relevant quote that resonates with your theme or topic. This will help to strike the right note and set the tone for your speech.
  • Pose a relevant question, especially if you want the audience to reflect on something. Then, slowly build on this to deliver your key messages.
  • A dramatic silence or pause is often an understated attention-getter. You must, however, be quite confident with your stature and presence as the audience focuses on you.
  • Share a thought-provoking or startling statistic about the subject. This

always gets an audience to sit and listen as they anticipate more information.

  • Make a powerful statement that immediately draws attention. The delivery and

content, however, have to be factual for it to hook the audience. 


Once you have the audience’s attention, delve into the details of your commemorative speech essay. This is where the meat of your commemorative speech lies and should only take about six minutes to relay. To continue holding their attention, you can inform the audience what to expect by summing up how you will pay tribute. For instance;

‘First, I will share background on his early childhood. Where he is from, his parents, siblings,t and how he grew up. Then I’ll share about his schooling, career up to the point of his ailment and demise. More importantly, I will talk about why he was my inspiration and the values he instilled in me’.

Be sure to highlight the subject’s accomplishments, share factual stories and positive anecdotes. This section should have at least five vital brief sentences, and here’s how to format them.

 Write your first main point as a sentence, followed by the first main point’s first sub-point. If there’s any elaboration required in this section, type it under the first main point’s first sub-point. Repeat this style format with the rest of the sentences until all your content is captured and ready for delivery.


Your commemorative speech outline should ensure a natural flow from the introduction, body, and conclusion. But remember to use a relevant transition word to alert the audience that your commemorative speech is about to end. 

Make it brief with no more than three sentences that can aptly be delivered in less than five minutes. For example, say, ‘In summary, I would like to say that we’ll miss John immensely,’ or ‘All in all, she is an amazing star whose work inspires us to be better.

You could also conclude by issuing a call to action inspiring the audience to emulate’ the subject. As you close, don’t forget to restate your thesis statement and recap the most salient points.


Finally, in your commemorative speech assignment, provide a list of sources consulted while preparing your speech. You don’t need to include each and everything you read or heard from friends or associates.

Listing each source you cite is the ideal way to countercheck your reference material. In the listing, alphabetize the bibliography by author’s last name and include the following information: author’s name, article title, publication title, volume, date, page number(s). You may need to include additional information so discuss with your professor on the recommended style format.  

Related searches

  1. Topics to consider for your commemorative speech

Selecting a good topic for your speech means there’s a high likelihood your audience will be captive, plus find it easy to identify with it. Below are several commemorative speech topics to consider

  1. i) Commemorative speech topics on tribute or dedication

This type of commemorative speech would involve a wide range of topics such as a tribute for a heroic act, exemplary leadership, to family and friends, a eulogy, or dedication to a famous personality. 

2.    Commemorative speech manuscript example

This brief written speech captures keywords and phrases to prompt your accurate delivery and supporting materials. A commemorative speech manuscript example is a toast at a wedding, eulogy, or a televised news report.

3.    Commemorative speech essay

A commemorative speech essay is a piece of writing you prepare for yourself in readiness to deliver a speech. The aim of this essay is to reorganize your thoughts and ensure you deliver a meaningful commemorative speech. The fact that you write it for yourself is what sets it apart from other speeches you research and write.

In summary

As long as you have good content and have mastered the fundamentals of how to write a commemorative speech outline, you’ll discover it’s pretty easy. Language, tone, flow, and the audience’s needs are the essential ingredients for an effective commemorative speech. Stories, illustrations, and figures of speech also help the audience to relate to your message.

If you would like to master this valuable skill, we have a team of professional trainers ready to take you through the guidelines. To book an appointment, call us on XXXX or email us at XXXXX


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