Ceremonial speech notes













Expressing gratitude. 5

Acknowledging those who made your accomplishment possible. 6

Focus on the values that the award represents. 6


Role of Humor 7



Outline for special occasion speech. 9

Other speeches. 10

Speech of Introduction. 10

Welcome. 10

Nomination. 10

Award. 10

Acceptance. 10

Toast 11

Commencement 11

Havard Commencement Speech. 11

Engineering Education in the 21st Century Presented by Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 11

Dedication. 11

Farewell 11

After Dinner Speech / Speech of Entertainment 11

Eulogy. 11

Groups work on report 1-4.. 11




Ceremonial speaking helps people gain appreciation of themselves throuqh an awareness of their common heritage.  While informative speaking imparts knowledge, and while persuasive speaking attempts to change attitudes and behavior, ceremonial speaking shares aims, beliefs, and aspirations.


Ritual and ceremony are important to all groups because they draw people together creating "ties of union" through the "mere exchange of words." Ceremonial speaking imprints the meaning of a group on its members by providing idealized, larger-than-life projections of what it means to be human.




Ceremonial speaking includes speeches of introduction, giving and receiving awards, inspiration, and celebration.  The following techniques are applicable to all types of ceremonial speaking. These techniques are identification and magnification.




Identification is the creation of close feelings among the members of the audience, and between the audience and the speaker.  Since the function of ritual and ceremony is to draw people closer together, the technique of identification is the very heart of ceremonial speaking.  Without it, ceremonial speaking cannot achieve its desired effects.  Speakers may further identification through the use of narratives for celebration, through recognizing heroes, and through a renewal of group commitment.





Ceremonial speaking is the time for reliving shared golden moments.  For example, if you were preparing a speech for a fund-raising celebration, you could recall things that happened during those long evenings when student volunteers were making their calls.  You might remember moments of discouragement, followed by other moments of triumph, when the contributions were especially large or meaningful.  Your story would reflect the meaning of the celebration and would be a tribute both to donors and to the student volunteers who endured occasional frustration and discouragement on the way to final victory.





 In the preceding situation you may want to single out those who made outstanding contributions, but be careful. If the hard work was really performed by many, you run the risk of leaving out someone who deserves recognition. This omission could create resentment, a divisive feeling that defeats identification.  Therefore, recognize specific individuals only when they have made truly unusual contributions or when they are representative.  For example, you might say, "Let me tell you about one person, Mary Tyrer.  She is one of the many who for the last two months have spent night after night on these phones, talking, coaxing, winning friends for out school, and raising thousands of dollars in contributions.  Mary--and all the others like you--we salute you."





 Ceremonial speaking is a time both for celebrating accomplishments and for renewing commitment.  Share with your listeners a vision of what the future can be like for your college if their commitment continues.  Plead with them not to be satisfied with present accomplishments, great as they are.  Renew their sense of identification as an act-ion group moving toward even greater goals.  Now is not the time to present new programs and challenges -- after all, there is a time for relaxation and celebration as well as a time for action. But you should at least leave listeners thinking about the brighter future they are shaping.  In his first Inaugural Address delivered on the eve of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln used the technique of identification in a final effort to reunite the nation (See this address: "We are not enemies, but friends...... )





 In his RHETORIC, Aristotle advised that by selecting certain features of a person or event and dwelling on them, we can magnify them until they fill the minds of listeners and seem to characterize the subject.  These features should represent some value (distinguish from "role") the speaker would like to emphasize.  MAGNIFICATION is the technique of selecting and emphasizing features of a subject for the purpose of emphasizing values.  For example, imagine that you are preparing a speech honoring Jesse Owens' incredible track and field accomplishments in the 1936 Olympic Games.  In your research, you come up with a variety of facts such as:

a)      He had a headache the day he won the medal in the long jump.

b)      He had suffered from racism in America.

c)      He did not like the food served at the Olympic training camp.

d)      He won his four gold medals in front of Adolph Hitler, who was preaching the racial superiority of the Germans.

e)      Some friends did not want him to run for the United States.

f)       After his victories, he returned to further discrimination in America.


If you used all of this information, your speech might seem aimless.  Which of these items of information should you elect to magnify and how should you proceed?  In this case, you decide that your purpose (specific) is to emphasize Jesse Owens' courage and determination to succeed, and the social benefits for his nation.  To make your selection, you need to know what themes are best to develop when you are magnifying the actions of a person.  These themes include the following:

1)         The person must seem to overcome great obstacles.

2)         The accomplishment must be unusual.

3)         The performance of the deed must be superior.

4)         The person's motives must be pure, not selfish.

5)         The accomplishment must benefit society.


As you consider these themes and your specific purpose, it becomes clear which of the items of information concerning Jesse Owens you should magnify and how you should go about it.  Which of the facts fall under the main point of courage and determination to succeed and which fall under the main point of benefits to the nation?  You can see that some of the facts demonstrate the guidelines for the five themes: He overcame obstacles such as racism in America to make the Olympic team.  His accomplishment was unusual that no one else had ever won four gold medals in Olympic track and field competition.  His performance was superior, resulting in world records that lasted many years.  Because Owens received no material gain from his victories, his motives were pure, his performance driven solely by personal qualifies such as courage, determination to succeed by excellent performance... finally, we see that because his victories repudiated Hitler's racist ideology, causing the Nazi leader public humiliation, Owens' accomplishments benefited our society (and the world's).





Magnification also includes using language to create word pictures.  Figurative language, not used in persuasive or informative speeches, is a tool to use in special occasion speeches.  Metaphor and simile can magnify a subject through creative associations, such as, "He was a whirlwind, roaring down the track in search of world records." Anaphora also can help magnify a subject by repeating key words in a certain order, until these words become representative of the subject. (See Ben Franklin's folk wisdom, the Bible).  If you were to say of Mother Theresa, "Whenever there was hurt, she was there.  Whenever there was hunger, she was there.  Whenever there was human need, she was there," you would be magnifying her dedication and selflessness.  This technique should make those qualities seem to resonate in the minds of listeners.





 Speakers should save their most stunning or dramatic or amusing stories, the most telling points, until the end of the speech.  Ceremonial speeches must never dwindle to a conclusion.




Speeches for special occasions include speeches of introduction, after-dinner speeches, speeches of inspiration, acceptance and receiving awards.  We will give some guidelines for the other types of ceremonial speeches, then focus on the tribute speech, THE MOST EFFECTIVE TYPE FOR, CLASSROOM SPEECHES.




1) A speech of acceptance should express gratitude for the honor;

2) acknowledge those who made the accomplishment possible;

3) focus on the values the award represents;

4) be presented in language that matches the dignity of the occasion.


Expressing gratitude


You would not go amiss if you began with, "Thank you.  I appreciate the honor of this award." Let others praise you--be modest and appreciative.  When Elie Wiesel was awarded the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, he began his acceptance speech with these remarks: "It is with a profound sense of humility that I accept the honor you have chosen to bestow upon me." Follow his lead and accept an award with grace and modesty.


Acknowledging those who made your accomplishment possible


 Mention some people who have prepared you for this moment.  You might say, "This award belongs as much to ... as it does to me." If the local historical society is awarding you a scholarship, it would be appropriate for you to mention some local teachers who prepared your way to this moment.  "This award belongs as much to Mr. Del Rio as it does to me.  He opened my eyes to the importance and relevance of history in our world today.  When Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted his Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he did so in these words: "I accept this prize on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood.... Most of these people will never make the headlines and their names will not appear in Who's Who.  Yet when years have rolled past .... men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization--because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness sake."


Focus on the values that the award represents


 If you were accepting a history scholarship, you might wish to focus on the values of liberal arts and sciences education and the contributions of history to the understanding of present-day problems.  In their acceptance speeches, both Mr. Wiesel and Dr. King stressed the value of freedom and the importance of involvement--of overcoming hatred with loving concern.  Let your language fit the occasion: An acceptance speech is an occasion for dignity.  Slang and jokes are usually out of place because they might suggest you do not value the award or take the occasion seriously.  Magnification techniques are especially useful in speeches of acceptance.  Dr. King relies heavilTy on an extended metaphor in his acceptance speech.  He spoke of the "tortuous road" from Montgomery, Alabama, to Oslo, a road on which, in his words, "millions ... are traveling to find a new sense of dignity." Mr. Wiesel evoked an archetypal narrative of a "young Jewish boy discovering the kingdom of night" during the Holocaust.  This theme introduced early in the speech was repeated in the conclusion: "No one is capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night."




Some speech occasions call listeners to share joy over some accomplishment.  Such occasions may mark the beginning or completion of a process, such as the opening of the school year or the end of football season.  They can also serve as fund-raising affairs political rallies, or award banquets.  The type of speech most often heard on such occasion is called an after-dinner speech because it is typically presented after the speaker and the audience have celebrated the event by eating.  Speakers making such presentations usually do not introduce radical materials that require listeners to rethink their values or that ask for dramatic changes in belief or behavior.  Nor are such occasions the time for anger or negativity.  A GOOD AFTER-DINNER SPEECH LEAVES A MESSAGE THAT CAN ACT AS A VISION TO GUIDE AND INSPIRE FUTURE EFFORTS.


Role of Humor


Humor is an essential ingredient in most after-dinner speeches because of the gala nature of the occasion.  In the introduction of a speech, humor can place both speaker and audience at ease.  Humorous stories can create identification by building an "insider's" relationship between speaker and audience that draws them closer together.  In sharing humor together, the audience becomes a community of listeners.  Since a toast--such as at a wedding--is a mini after-dinner speech, be sure to include all the audience in recalling humorous events by telling what the event was.  If the event is not suitable for all ears to hear, save the story for another time.  Telling jokes or making references to events that only some of the audience is familiar with is alienating and isolating part of the group gathered.  Repeat the story so all the group can enjoy the humor.  Sometimes inside humor grows out of the share experiences of the group;  then a simple reference to it is useful.  Inside humor can also develop out of the immediate situation.  Dick Jackman, the director of corporate communications at Sun Company, opened an after-dinner speech at a National Football Foundation with a pointed reference to the seating arrangements, then warned those in the expensive seats under the big chandelier that it "had been installed by the low bidder some time ago." His speech also contained lighthearted references to well-known members of the audience, including some who were there to receive an award.  Since the group assembled at that particular dinner did not have a history from which to draw stories, the speaker took advantage of the setting and based his humor on that.


Be sure and avoid religious humor, racist or ethnic humor, sexist humor, and even political humor if there is possibly anyone present who might have different religions, racial mix, ethnic backgrounds, varying political values, or both sexes are present.  Why?  Because you might--and likely will--offend someone, thus destroying the group unity you are there to build.  Creating negative reactions in some of the audience or all--can also destroy speaker credibility, and block a fair hearing of the rest of the speech.  Use humor to make a point. Often the best kind of humor centers on the speakers themselves.  Tell amusing stories about yourself; they can endear the speaker to the audience, Although the stories the speaker tells about him or her self seem to put the speaker down, they actually build the speaker's ethos.




As we have already indicated, this speech is the most common and effective special occasion speech given in speech 210 classes.  Let's see how to construct this speech.  If you had developed a speech honoring Jesse Owen's Olympic victories, you would have prepared a speech of tribute.  The speech of tribute, which may center on a person or on an event, recognizes and celebrates accomplishments.  You might make a speech honoring a teacher you have had a special friend, or someone you admire--your Father, mother, a sister or brother.  The person you pay tribute to does not have to be famous, have earned awards, or be reported in the media.  If you can think of particular values the person has lived out and can think of experiences or- stories to illustrate these values, then you can construct a speech of tribute about this person.  Following the guidelines of themes to magnify, these stories or narratives you use can be symbolic incidents that could benefit society anywhere--in the family, community, school rooms, business or work.




Accomplishments and events are usually celebrated for two basic reasons.  First, they are important in themselves; the influence of the person you honor may effect lives of many or a few--but a positive effect is present.  Second, they are important as symbols.  The planting of the American flag atop Mt.  Suribachi on Iwo Jima during some of the intense fighting of World War II symbolized the courage and fortitude of the American war effort.  The symbol of several soldiers planting a torn flag on a hill top has been used on stamps and in history books as a symbol of courage and fortitude of our soldiers--even though the Battle of Iwo Jima was just one of many fierce battle scenes.  Some times the event may be celebrated for both act and symbolic reasons.  A speech honoring the raising of $60 million for African famine relief would celebrate both actual and symbolic achievements--money raised is actual and global generosity is the symbolic value.  In a tribute speech, consider both the actual and symbolic value; then talk about them.


For this assignment in Speech 210 classes, there is a four-part introduction, with its interest arousal, topic statement, clarification that relates the topic to the audience, then the preview that names the values as the main points of the body.  Develop the main point statements in parallel construction for the best result,  then support each value, or main point, with one extended narrative or story (we've learned to call this "example" in the informative and persuasive speeches.) Or, use two or three short stories to support each main point.


The conclusion contains two steps, just as the informative speech has: a general summary, then a sign-off.  The following example is a typical sentence outline handed in and followed by a student giving a classroom special occasion speech:


Outline for special occasion speech


I.        Introduction


A.      Who has had the greatest influence on your life?  For many of us, a special teacher probably comes to mind.


B.      Throughout my career as a student, many teachers have come and gone and have been loved and hated, but none has had a greater impact then Mrs. Jean Wright, my senior English teacher.


C.         C.          Certainly, all of us have had teachers who evoked strong emotions in us, both positive and negative; today I would like to pay tribute to this very special lady.


D.    D.     Mrs. Jean Wright was the epitome of warmth, concern for others, and courage as she proved both in her professional and personal lives.


II.          Body


A.      Jean Wright taught her students by her example of warmth.

B.      Jean Wright taught her students by her example of concern for others.

C.     Jean Wright taught her students by her example of courage.


III.         Conclusion


A.     I'm sure that we have all had teachers who were special to us in some way, and I hope you can see how Mrs. Wright's warmth, concern and courage made her special to all her students.


B.     The impact that this lady had upon those who knew her was undeniably proven when the announcement of her death as a result of the cancer which she had fought for so long caused a football stadium full of screaming fans to fall silent and to reflect upon the great loss the school, the community, and the world had suffered.



Other speeches


Speech of Introduction

Tipper Gore The vice president's wife introduces him with a biographical video

Remarks to 10th Annual Awards of Excellence Luncheon Russell Sage Dining Hall




Presented at the 1st World Conference on Music and Censorship, Copenhagen 20-22 November, 1998

A welcome speech of the President of Polar Explorers Association Chilingarov A.N.

George W. Bush's Inaugural Address—January 20, 2001

47th IPSD 2002 Reunion: Pedestal Dedication Speeches



John F. Kennedy: Announcing his Candidacy for President


we will do Friday


Is our next speech and what we will cover friday


  1. ...When George asked me to be the best man at his wedding, I was truly honored. We've been friends for about twelve hours now and I think of him almost like a brother. Which is why I put him in a headlock and told him he'd better make Madonona a happy woman or else I'd pound him. Obviously, Madonona is the best thing that's ever happened to Craig. She is without a doubt a wonderful person. And despite the hard time I give John, I can honestly tell you he has a heart of gold, as his former 23 wives have told me. The two of them together make an incredibly special couple. I really am honoured to stand up for my two friends today, so that I may wish them every happiness imaginable...





Havard Commencement Speech

Engineering Education in the 21st Century Presented by Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute




Dedication Ceremony for the George Bush Center for Intelligence



President Reagan's Farewell Speech

After Dinner Speech / Speech of Entertainment


Courtney Love's speech to the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference



Groups work on report 1-4


**** When you write up what I will say – be sure to name all the nominees in your category. For example,

Best Video Of The Year



Without Me











Linkin Park

In The End

Warner Bros.










The White Stripes

Fell In Love With A Girl

Third Man





One Mic




Linkin Park takes home best group award

The "new metal" sensation Linkin Park won both the best group and best hard rock categories, beating out the might of U2 and Coldplay.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers won for best rock and best live act.