Tips For Speaking At Special Occasions

Special occasions call for special speakers
Special occasions call for special speakers

Image Credit: O’Reilly Internal

When you think about giving a speech, what comes to mind? For most of us, we think of ourselves standing in front of a room of people with our prepared speech spread out in front of us using the importance of public speaking to launch into a speech. However, life does not always work out that way. It turns out that we can be asked to give a speech in a number of different ways and special occasions are just one set of these. What this means for us as speakers is that we need to make sure that we’re ready to give a special occasion speech when the time comes.

Where Did Special Occasion Speeches Come From?

Special occasion speeches were first defined back in the days of the ancient Greeks. They were even given their own name “epideictic oratory”. The Greeks viewed these speeches as being ones that could be delivered at public events. There were many different types of speeches that they believed could fit this classification including awards, tributes, toasts, eulogies, and commencement addresses. The goal of this type of speech was to inspire people and provide them with uplifting ideas and words.

Mastering The Toast

Toasting is when we take a glass and raise it. We then either speak words of praise or we offer good wishes to somebody who is being honored by the people who have gathered. A toast is generally concluded by urging everyone to “drink up!” You may encounter a toast in any one of a number of different places such as weddings, engagement parties, retirement banquets, anniversaries, etc.

When you are called on to provide a toast you are going to want to remember a few things. You need to keep your audience in mind. You are going to want to make your toast both relevant and interesting to them. You are going to have to make sure that you are aware of the formality of the situation. Then you are going to have to make your humor and language match the situation. Finally, you need to remember that toasts are traditionally short. Make sure that you keep yours to no more than two to three minutes.

Speaking To Complement

One of the most fulfilling speeches that we can be called on to give is the speech in which we complement someone. The person that you are complementing can either be living or dead. This kind of speech could either be a eulogy or a speech at an event such as a retirement party, anniversary, or even a corporate meeting. Your goal when giving a speech like this is to inspire a deep appreciation of the person that you are praising.

A Roast

If you can master giving a toast, then it can be simple to master giving a roast. The two types of speeches are very similar. The difference is that a roast is designed to honor someone by poking fun at them. You goal needs to be to use humor to provide an affectionate show of admiration for someone. The kind of humor that you choose to use should be light and entertaining to your audience, it should never be insulting or cruel. When you are roasting someone, you’ll want to use short stores. As you tell these stories, you’ll want to make them funny by exaggerating them, adding one-liners and twists to your stories. Use a roast to unite the audience.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers we often get asked to give formal speeches to audiences. These are big deals in which we are the stars of the show. However, it turns out that there are a lot of other types of speeches that we may be asked to give in order to share the benefits of public speaking. These types of speeches are called special occasion speeches and they can come in many different varieties. We need to be ready for them when they show up.

Special occasion speeches were first identified by the Greeks. They saw them as public speeches that were given for a variety of reasons. In our lives, one of the most common types of special occasion speeches that we may be called on to give is a toast. We need use our time to say good things about the person that we are toasting. We may also find ourselves in a situation where we deliver a speech that is designed to complement a person. These types of speeches can happen at a wide variety of different events. A roast is very similar to giving a toast with the difference being that we are using humor to poke fun at someone that we are honoring. We need to be very careful and only choose humor that is light and funny.

There are more occasions to give specialty speeches that there will ever be opportunities to give formal speeches. What this means for us is that we need to make sure that we are always ready to deliver a great specialty speech. Before attending an event, give some thought to what kind of speech that you might be called on to give and make sure that you show up ready to give the best specialty speech that anyone has ever heard!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that a roast speech should last?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Congratulations – you have the ability to stand up in front of an audience and give a speech. Now what? If you are like most of us, you probably want to get better at this thing that we call speaking. Wanting to get better is a good thing, knowing exactly how to go about doing that is a completely different thing! The bad news is that there is not one magical thing that you can do that will transform you into a better speaker and allow you to share the importance of public speaking with your audience. However, it turns out that there are a number of steps that you can take that will make this happen.