Special occasion speaking encompasses a number of different speeches that require particular attention to an occasion, event, or person. Such speeches are intended to inspire audiences, celebrate an event, commemorate a person, and/or entertain. Special occasion speeches should reflect the mood of the audience and the occasion that brings people together. This chapter discussed speeches of introduction, toasts and roasts, presentational speeches, keynote addresses, commencement speeches, commemorative speeches and tributes, and after-dinner speeches. After-dinner speeches in particular are arguably the most challenging because they require planning, organization, and timing on the part of the speaker. But with some general guidelines—keeping it short, finessing the obvious, staying positive, and using appropriate forms of humor, the special occasion speech will have a lasting impact on the audience and the occasion.
There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you. ~ Winston Churchill