Just as the language for special occasion speaking is slightly different, so too are the ways in which you will want to deliver your speech. First and foremost, since you will be spending so much time crafting the perfect language to use and putting your words in the right order, it is imperative that you say exactly what you have written; otherwise, what was the point? To that end, your delivery for a special occasion speech will skew slightly more in favor of manuscript speaking discussed in Chapter 11. While it is still vital to establish eye contact with your audience and to not sound like you are reading, it is also important to get the words exactly right.
You will need to practice your special occasion speech as much as or even more than you did for your informative or persuasive speeches. You need to know what you are going to say and feel comfortable knowing what is coming next. This is not to say you should have your speech memorized, but you need to be able to take your eyes off the page in order to establish and maintain a rapport with your audience, a vital element in special occasion speaking because of the emotional component at the core of these speeches. Knowing your speech will also allow you to counteract the flow of adrenaline into your system, something particularly important given that special occasion speeches tend to be very emotional, not just for the audience, but for you as well.
Basically, knowing your speech well allows you to incorporate the emotion that a special occasion speech is meant to convey, something that is hard to do when you read the entirety of your speech. In this way your audience will sense the pride you feel for a graduating class during a commencement speech, the sorrow you feel for the deceased during a eulogy, or the gratitude you have when accepting an award.
Special occasion speaking is the most varied type of speaking to cover; however, there are some general rules to keep in mind regardless of what type you are engaged in. Remember that using good, evocative language is key, and that it is important that you deliver your speech in a way that both conveys the proper emotion for the occasion as well as allows you to give the speech exactly as you wrote it.
Sample Outline: Commemorative (Tribute) Speech on Simone Biles
By Kellie Barnes
Specific Purpose: To inspire my audience with the story of Simone Biles.
Introduction: “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles!” Said Simone, and boy did she earn that kind of recognition! Some of you might hear that name and think of a random gymnast and some of you may hear that name and not know who it is at all; but today, before this class is over, I am going to make sure each and every one of you remember just how great she is and why she deserves to be recognized.
Thesis: A person whom I admire over all other athletes is Simone Biles.
Preview: Simone is special in my eyes because she has overcome some big challenges in her life to get to where she is today. Not only is she a 3-time gymnastics champion, but she made history while doing it.
I. Simone overcame an extremely rough childhood in Columbus,
Ohio, as both her mother and father were struggling with substance abuse.
A. Simone’s grandparents took her and her siblings under their wings.
B. Soon her grandparents were able to adopt all of the grandchildren at a fairly young age.
C. Although Simone didn’t have the best relationship with her mom as a young child, she had plenty of women to step up in her life to fill that gap.
1. She had a grandmother who was basically “Mom” to her.
2. She has also had the same gymnastics coach since she was 11 years old.
Transition: Although Simone had a rather disheartening childhood, she has emerged to be one of the best in her sport.
II. In her teens and standing at 4 foot 8 inches, Simone made a tremendous name for herself in the gymnastics world. These are just a few of her accomplishments.
A. Simone was the first female ever to win three worldwide all-around titles.
1. She has the most World Championship gold medals won by a female gymnast in history with ten.
2. She is the most decorated World Championship American gymnast with 14 total medals (10 gold, two silver, two bronze).
B. She became the Olympic Gold medalist in vault, floor, Individual and Team all-around and Bronze medalist on Beam at 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
C. At just 19 years old, she became the most decorated female gymnast in America.
1. Right behind her the whole time stood her amazing family and support system.
2. She is the first African American to become an allaround world champ.
D. Consequently, she has received many media awards and much attention.
1. She was named one of the Most Influential People in the World list by TIME magazine.
2. She was named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year 2016.
Transition: Simone was so incredibly grateful that she had people to take her in and support her through all of her success she tried her best to do the same for others who were in need.
III. Simone started an amazing charity for foster kids as a way for her to give back.
A. Founded in 2015, Mattress Firm Foster Kids is now effective in 40 states nationwide.
B. “This is such a personal cause for me because I know firsthand what it is like to be in foster care, the struggles and all,” says Simone.
C. This cause has given back more than 610,000 items, such as clothes and school supplies, to foster kids and their families.
Conclusion: As I sit back and look at the life of Simone Biles I’m amazed with all that she has done in such a short amount of time. At 20 years old she had given back to those in need, rose above many tough challenges in her life, and amongst all of that she is having the time of her life on the mat, and earning medals and honors while doing so. “I’m out here to prove what I’m capable of” said Simone and in my eyes, she is doing just that.