When you’re giving a commemorative speech, you are celebrating either a person, an organization, a place, or an incident.

Make sure you’re always genuine, courteous, and meaningful. As giving tributes go, it is advisable to let your audience know why you care about the person or the subject matter and highlight why it is significant to celebrate their accomplishments.

But before, how do you start a commemorative speech?

Original: SourceThis article will tell you everything college students need to know about starting a commemorative speech with a powerful punch.

How to Start a Commemorative Speech?

“Why is knowing how to start a speech so important,” you may wonder. That’s because how you choose to start your speech defines if people choose to listen to you further. It’s not easy to hold an audience’s attention but starting on the right note can help you achieve that.

Here are seven tips to help you start a commemorative speech.

Tell them a fascinating story or share an anecdote

Telling your audience an interesting and relatable story is one of the most powerful ways to hook your audience, right at the beginning of your commemorative speech.

Humans are hardwired to love and listen to stories. It compels them to understand better and lean into the information more. That’s why storytelling is used to teach children morals and lessons of life. It makes them place themselves in the story and connect to it easily.

Since you are starting your speech with an attention-grabbing story, it needs to be brief, with the appropriate details and the right language that would activate the emotions of your audience. It should also be genuine, kind, and should denote a message or a lesson learned from the story that your audience can associate with.

You can also start your speech by telling your audience a personal experience or an anecdote that would support the details of your speech. Personal experience stories help make the audience feel the authenticity of the speaker and connect these experiences to their own lives.

Here’s a useful video by Word Cortex with Anita on telling stories while making speeches


Use a compelling quote or a metaphor

Instead of starting your speech normally, why not start with a compelling quote or metaphor?

There are a variety of quotes that were stated by historical and important figures of history such as Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, etc., that can be used in your speech to develop interest or motivation.

Sometimes it is equally viable to use a quotation you’ve been told by someone in your own life. For example, something that your grandfather said that made a massive impact on you, or a close acquaintance who gave you advice that changed your life for the better.

Furthermore, using a metaphor to start your speech will capture your audience’s imagination and make your introduction more memorable and witty.

Ask them a question

When you open your commemorative speech with an interesting, intelligent question to ask your audience, make sure to get them hooked to it completely as you are asking them for engagement and to participate.

You could also pose a series of rhetorical questions to ask as this then stimulates the audience’s mind, leaving them pondering for the answers, which you will eventually expand in the rest of your speech. Asking your audience relevant questions right at the beginning of your speech makes them want to know more and thus listen intently to what you have to say.

Start with an interesting fact

A surefire way to gain people’s attention is to state an interesting fact or a surprising statistic. Take your time to research the facts before you say it because incorrect or controversial statements and details will just bring your entire credibility down.

Moreover, your audience will assume that you don't know what you are talking about and will no longer be interested in your speech. This strategy sets the tone of the speech and keeps your listener intrigued to learn more.

Get the audience to laugh

Original: SourceHumor is key.

If you can make your audience laugh in the first 15 seconds of your speech, you are likely to catch their attention and keep them invested.

Humor brings in a sense of relatability, closeness, and warmth. There’s audience rapport, as they get eager to hear what you have to say, their readiness to laugh and to create a light and breezy atmosphere.

But when you are thinking of opening your commemorative speech with a joke, you should keep in mind a few important points:

  • never tell your audience a rude or an unkind joke;
  • never joke at somebody's expense (make a joke about people in the audience);
  • don't start with a vague joke that makes no sense and isn’t related to your speech and setting;
  • study your audience, if you think starting your speech with a joke will not work on your audience, then you should just leave it be.

Visualize a scenario (using the word ‘imagine’)

Telling the audience to visualize a scenario invites them to create a mental image of a situation or a person.

The word “imagine” holds a lot of meaning and is free-flowing, thus guiding the audience’s mind to wander into another world. As you describe the setting, you place each listener in the middle of the scene, making them understand your point of view, and taking them along with you in your creative, imaginative journey.

This tactic should be adapted for introducing your commemorative speech, where you would want your audience to imagine a positive outcome or to have a vision for something better.

Make a bold statement

A big mistake is to start your speech by making generic statements. These statements do not engage anybody and are also very boring and unimaginative.

Start your speech with a bold statement that your audience least expects, which eventually ties back to the rest of the speech. This strategy exudes a certain confidence that your audience will latch on to.

3 Key Factors to Remember While Writing a Commemorative Speech

Now that you know how to start a commemorative speech, here are three key factors to keep in mind.

Add a personal touch

The basic structure of your formal commemorative speech includes what you want to celebrate, how it has impacted you and others, and how it will continue to remain a big part of people’s lives.

Try to include personal observations and anecdotes to make it more relatable and not sound superficial.

Respect the subject and the audience

Your speech is going to be heard and judged by your entire college. Make sure to have all your facts straight, speak confidently, and know who your audience is -- what they find interesting, how they are intertwined with your speech, and what they could react to.

Speak from your heart, think from your head

The audience can usually tell when the speaker gives a speech about something that does not interest them or they don't think is important.

It shows in their tone, their body language, and their choice of words. Use your heart to express the genuine gratitude you have for the person, event, or place you are commemorating, and use your head to think correctly, be appropriate, and thoughtful in your speech.

Final Thoughts

To reiterate, giving any kind of a big speech in front of an audience is a very intimidating task and would cause some amount of anxiety to the speaker.

Commemorative speeches are no less daunting since the speaker needs to pay tribute and commemorate a person, an event, an idea, or even during a graduation ceremony.

Knowing how to start a commemorative speech strong is the first step to having the rest of the speech turn out great. All you need is confidence and these effective tips.

Still in a fix? Reach out to Writers Per Hour. Our professional speech writers know what it takes to start a speech that hooks your readers and keeps them engaged. So, let us help you deliver a speech that leaves a lasting impression.