Tribute speeches are literally written as tributes to the achievements of a person or group. They're commonly used on major ceremonial occasions, like awards, or other special occasions. Some tribute speeches are given as obituary tributes, or eulogies.
Tribute speeches are usually structured. The structure is basically a storyline, using illustrations and anecdotes from the life of the person to tell the story.
Character of tribute speeches
The greatest tribute speeches are created by strongly motivated speakers, who exemplify the tribute element in their speeches. Many tribute speeches are given by family, or close friends, and the character of the tribute speeches are driven by these close associations.
The content of such speeches is always very strong, and contains a depth of expression not found in the more common professional tributes.
Types of tribute speeches
The main types of tribute speeches are:
Personal tributes are by individuals, with the speeches delivered in an appropriate setting. These tend to be less formal, but are often highly motivated.
Professional tributes are generally based on professional achievements. These are career based tributes, and their content is largely derived from the life of the subject.
The Obituary/commemorative form of tribute speech is strictly formal. It's usually delivered to a formal ceremony.
The satirical form of tribute speech, known as a 'Roast', in which the tribute is mainly humorous, is delivered by friends of the subject, usually at a gathering of friends.
Structure of tribute speeches
The structure is usually:
Opener: Initial statement, ice breaker
Depending on the event, this is an introduction of the subject in context.
The preliminary part of the speech relates the relationship of the speaker to the subject, and the basis of the speech, 'I've known this person for 40 years, and I'm here to pay tribute to his/her incredible career…'.
Knowledge: Facts, research data, information.
This is the main body of the speech, and its content is extremely important. There are many versions of tribute speeches, but the requirement is for high quality information. This part of the speech is biographical, leading in to the Achievements element of the speech.
Achievements: Description and explanation of significance of achievements
This part describes the achievements in detail, and set out their significance.
Conclusion: Summation, closing comments
We're here today to pay tribute to the incredible career of John Smith, one of the world's leading mathematicians.
John Smith was born in 1998. He grew up poor in Lincoln, and started his working life as a plumber in 2016. In 2017 he realized that he wasn't made for the plumbing life. He started a new life as an IT intern in 2018 in London at the Anglo Euro Medical Research Lab, which was an advanced institution studying epidemiology, under a government grant.
That was a case of the government doing something useful with its tax money, if there ever was one. John was so fascinated with medicine that he spent as much time as the researchers analyzing the data. He wasn't trained, but he had an eye for statistics, and a natural talent for demographics.
Epidemiology produces more numbers and raw data than anything but space programs. The researchers found themselves dealing with a 21 year old number cruncher with the ability to create whole new data handling methods at 4AM.
Knowing a good thing when they needed one, Anglo Euro Medical wangled a new grant for John, studying data management at Oxford. He started in 2020, and finished his first degree in 2022, a year ahead of normal.
While doing this, he also redesigned Anglo Euro's data system from the ground up. He wrote the formulas on anything, though. They found one of his algorithms on a bus ticket. Despite that, he progressed, and with the assistance of Oxford and the local bus company he got his Masters in 2024 and his doctorate in 2026.
That was the just. His doctorate thesis is now famous. He invented multilinear demographic analysis. That's a form of plural continuum analysis of cases. It's the equivalent of E = mc2 to demography, these days. It's solved more medical problems than aspirin, in the last 20 years. That was one Nobel Prize that was never in doubt.
Since then he's been spreading his talents across space travel, civil engineering, energy efficiency, and the advertising and marketing industries. Now he's begun his biggest project ever: Feeding the world. It's the biggest number crunch of them all, and so far John's never met a problem he can't beat.
Ladies and Gentlemen: John's only 43 years old. There's no way of knowing what happens next, but we can be sure it won't be dull.
Examples of tribute speeches:
Senator Edward Kennedy's tribute to John F. Kennedy
Nelson Mandela tribute to his supporters on release from prison
Winston S. Churchill 'Their Finest Hour'
Earl Spencer Obituary Tribute to Princess Diana