The ideal commemorative speech topic is one that inspires your audience. It enthralls, uplifts and whirls them through a journey of transformation. (Source:

By the time you tuck your cue cards back into your pocket at the end of speech you give you'll want to know that you've left your audience enriched.

But how do you choose exactly the right commemorative speech topic?

The process begins not with choice of subject but with the occasion and the audience. Understanding both of these will make your topic selection so much easier and because you've done the analysis you'll be more likely to make the best decision. Let's focus on those now.

What is the Occasion?

Commemorative speeches do as their title says, commemorate. They celebrate, praise, or pay tribute to memories. These could be memories of a person, a group, an institution, a thing, an event or an idea. The goal of the speech is always to unite the audience, to bring them together to collectively inspire, to re-dedicate and refocus their energies through honoring and remembering the past.

Examples of occasions calling for this type of speech are anniversaries, reunions, dedications, national and international remembrance days and funeral or memorial services.

To help yourself make the best choice of speech topic find out as much as you can about the event and the organization holding it. Talk to the event managers about what they'd like you to focus on. If it's a regular one, find out what past speakers have talked about or ask folk who've been in the audience what has been successful and why.

Who is the Audience? Consider who is listening to you.

  • Why are they there?

  • What unites them?

  • What experiences have they shared?

  • What do they expect from you?

  • What do they hope for?

  • What do you know about their values or beliefs?

  • What are their concerns or worries?

And now that you know more about the context you're ready to start considering your commemorative speech topic.

Because this type of speech is more about honoring the qualities enabling a person, organization or group to act in the way they did, the speech is not a recital of facts. Instead the facts, when they are recalled, are a backdrop used to demonstrate or illustrate the qualities being celebrated.

So in thinking about this, what values will you focus on and what examples or events will you use to show them? Use your knowledge of the event and the audience to guide you.

Commemorative Speech Topic Themes:

  • bravery
  • courage
  • dedication
  • loyalty
  • service
  • resourcefulness
  • creativity
  • originality
  • adaptability
  • independence
  • perseverance
  • selflessness
  • kindness
  • cheerfulness
  • clarity
  • innovative
  • humor
  • modesty
  • openness
  • respectfulness

As you can see, once you begin the possibilities are endless.

Your next job is to select the stories that best illustrates those qualities.

Will your commemorative speech topic retell stories about past events and people already known to the audience?
Will you research history to find inspiring events, stories or quotations to echo, reinforce and add to your speech?
Will you use your own experiences?

The answer to those three questions is YES.

The best commemorative speech topic combines all three elements and expresses them eloquently.

In summary, a great commemorative speech topic:

  • is in tune with the audience's values
  • is sincere and relevant
  • uses the language of oratory (figurative language) to capture the hearts of its listeners