Commemorative speeches pay tribute to or praise a person, an institution, an event, idea, or place.
The focus of a commemorative speech is on VALUES. Our society holds certain values central to
human existence: beauty, innocence, courage, tradition, success, experience, and kindness, for
example. This speech will celebrate the values inherent in your topic. Thus, you not only reaffirm
your audience’s values, but also inspire them by offering praise to particular values located in your
topic. Your primary audience is your classmates; and after the first couple of speeches in the
course, you should be developing a sense about their values and interests.
DO NOT COMMEMORATE CELEBRITIES OR YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS. CHOOSE SOMEONE WHO
HAS DONE SOMETHING SUBSTANCIAL, AND WITH WHICH THE AUDIENCE CAN IDENTIFY!
VALUE: 25 points (including peer evaluations)
• STANDING SPEECH
• MANUSCRIPT REQUIRED
• NO VISUAL AID
1. To demonstrate audience awareness by choosing an appropriate subject and a set of
values shared by your audience
2. To choose a commemorative situation from the following (please see your Lucas textbook):
• speech of introduction
• speech of presentation
• speech of acceptance
• speech of praise and celebration
3. To demonstrate the creative use of language to articulate values and demonstrate
relevance. You must use at least 2 easily identifiable language devices. See sheet in the
Learning Activities folder.
4. To demonstrate appropriate research about your subject
5. To articulate a clear speech theme
6. To cite at least 2 different sources in the body of your speech. Be creative, use poetry,
literary or philosophical quotations that are themselves stirring, lyrics, etc. DO NOT
QUOTE YOUR SUBJECT OR TOPIC.
7. To demonstrate the distinction between commemorative speeches and persuasive and
8. To include speech delivery that: maintains eye contact with audience, movement of
body/arms/face to reinforce speech points, vocal variety, and correct pacing. The speech
should be given WITHOUT notes. Students using notecards will receive an automatic
grade reduction of 5 points.
9. To stay within time parameters of 2-3 minutes
Completing the Assignment:
Language: As you may have guessed, language is an essential part of effective commemorative
speeches. Using stories, illustrations, and figurative language (similes, metaphors, analogies)
helps the audience to share your experience. It is crucial that your language be colorful, concrete,
concise, clear, as well as stirring.
Topic Selection: This speech is not an informative or persuasive speech. Rather, this speech
should articulate values that the audience collectively holds (or could hold) as a community. In
other words, you would not simply present a history or biography of Malcolm X. Instead, you would
celebrate who he was, why he was worthy of praise, and encourage us to celebrate those values,
too. Remember also that it will be harder for the audience to relate to a person they don’t
know (such as your family member); therefore, choose carefully. Note that it is difficult to pay
tribute to trivial topics. Therefore, a commemorative speech on, say, “tailgating parties” or
celebrities would NOT be appropriate. This speech is about what is most important to our
society—honor, trust, freedom, etc.
Body of the Speech:
You should clearly indicate the commemorative situation in the body of your speech. The majority
of your speech should provide DETAILED examples of specific events that typify the 2-3 values
you chose to commemorative. For example, in a speech on Martin Luther King, Jr., if you chose
courage and wisdom as your two values, you would discuss two specific moments in MLK’s career
where he led a march or boycott or where he gave an inspirational speech for the Civil Rights
movement. You would also use very concrete language so that the audience could see the event
in their minds’ eye.
Outlines/Notecards: This assignment requires a great deal of practice. Ideally, speeches will be
memorized/read with skill and subtlety. Nothing is more painful than a “read” commemorative
speech. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. The speech should be given WITHOUT notes.
Students using notecards will receive a grade reduction of 5 points.
Citing Sources: Make sure to cite sources other than the subject of your speech. These sources
should comment on the subject, rather than be by or from the subject. In other words, DO NOT
QUOTE YOUR SUBJECT OR SOURCE. For a speech on Barack Obama, you would NOT quote
Obama, but you would instead quote Maya Angelou or a prominent politician.
Items for which special emphasis will be placed in grading include: originality and clarity of topic,
clarity and appropriateness of language—especially use of a polished delivery that employs
dramatic pauses, vocal variation, and artistic phrasing. A polished manuscript that is free from
grammatical and spelling errors and typing mistakes is also required.
2-3 minutes. Speeches that exceed or do not meet these requirements will be penalized at the
instructor’s discretion. (There is a 30 second grace period above or below the required speaking
time. Your grade will be deducted one letter grade for every 30 seconds above or below the grace
Each speech must be accompanied by a polished, error-free manuscript in 12pt font and
double-spacing, similar to an essay for an English class. The outline must include citations
and a Works Cited page that follows APA or MLA format.
Don’t forget when you record yourself that you frame your head, torso, and part of your legs so that
we can see your gestures.
Posting to the Internet:
Your speech should be posted to YouTube, Vimeo, or Screencast-o-matic, which will provide you
with a link to share with your professor.
Make sure to open an account in either YouTube or Vimeo, and post your speech, making certain
that the link is marked “Public.” Any speech marked “Private” will receive an automatic 5-point
penalty. Once you’ve recorded your speech, post this link to the “Write Submission” button
below. Attach your speech manuscript as a x file to this assignment.