A tribute speech is a unique type of speech. It is intended to honour someone for his achievements and to provide an opportunity for reflection and appreciation of a particular individual or organisation. When writing a tribute speech, there are certain guidelines that can help to guarantee the most appropriate and respectful use of language for such an occasion.
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Become intimately familiar with the person whom you are giving the speech. Most likely, you already know this information if you are choosing to give this type of speech, but you should still do some added research to make sure that all the person's major accomplishments are recognised.
Brainstorm. The hardest step of any type of writing is getting past the blank page. Begin by writing down any memories or characteristics that you feel are especially representative of the subject of the speech and her life.
Personalise the speech. If you have personal experiences or memories with the person, don't hesitate to work these into the speech. The best stories will not only reveal some positive character trait of the speech's subject, but they will also include some sort of lesson that was imparted to your from this experience.
Use humour carefully. On such occasions, one of the most difficult things to accomplish is the appropriate balance between a celebration of the subject's past and a reverence for it. Too much humour is obviously not recommended, but, if the subject of the speech was known for being a humorous person, then a touch of humour can help to recall the warm, loving nature of the person.
Have a close friend or relative proofread your speech. Ask them to be brutally honest with their criticisms and respect their advice. A fresh perspective can offer a benefit to even the most adept writers.
Practice reading your speech out loud. Don't wait until the day of the speech to begin vocalising the speech. You need to become very comfortable with the words on the page and the emotions that they are meant to evoke. Ideally, you should get to the point where you can read the speech in a fluid manner while still being able to look up at the audience at least half of the time.
Tips and warnings
- Reading other tribute speeches can be a great help in discovering what it is that you want to say in your own speech (see Resources).