16 Read: Special Occasion Case Study 1 – Tamara’s Tribute Speech to “Big Daddy”

Case Studies

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When it comes to homework, students often wonder, “When will I ever do this in my real life?”   The Special Occasion speech is one of the most practical, widely used speech types. This is why it warrants looking more deeply into this type of speech as a “Case Study.”

Most individuals will either attend or speak at special occasions such as graduations, various award ceremonies, funerals, memorial services, retirements or weddings. Giving a toast at the wedding of your best friend, sibling, parent or child might be “expected” of you – will you be ready to give this toast with the sincerity and flare expected? This sort of pressure often exceeds the pressure of being graded for a classroom speech. Thus, if you think of the public speaking classroom as a “laboratory” where you can prepare and experiment, in a sense, try out different forms of speaking, then you can especially see the utility of a particular assignment, a “Special Occasion Speech.” This Unit will vary depending upon the instructor. However, the general advice for organizing and delivering speeches for special occasions will help you in your own particular classroom assignment.

Unit 1 focuses upon Special Occasion “Commemorative and Tribute Speeches.” Additionally, information on “Toasts,” “Presentational Speeches,” and “Acceptance Speeches” will be given.  Each unit includes a student guide who will offer suggestions that relate to you, a peer student. The student guide’s coursework, then, will be highlighted as sample work.

Meet Tamara!

In this Case Study, you’ll “meet” Tamara. She is just finishing her requirements to attend graduate school. When she gave this speech, she was graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree. Many of her speeches are highlighted in this Press Book. Thanks, Tamara for sharing your work!

Sample Tribute Speech for Analysis

Tamara Johnson’s “Big Daddy”

*Also see: https://mediaspace.minnstate.edu/media/Tamara%27s+Tribute+to+her+GrandfatherA+Big+Daddy/0_6l9snxpm for closed caption version — this will be updated as Media Space does not simply copy into Press Books.

Classroom Version of Tamara’s Tribute Speech

Sample Special Occasion “Tribute” Speech Outline

Tamara Johnson

Speech #2: Final Outline




Attention Material: In my family, when someone mentions “Big Daddy” they aren’t talking about the 90s Adam Sandler film, they most likely are talking about my grandpa. With six children, 16 grandchildren and now 17 great grandchildren in the mix, there’s no question as to why my grandpa and favorite person in the world was nicknamed “Big Daddy.”

Gain Goodwill of the Audience: We all can think of someone that has had a major influence on our lives, whether it be the lessons they’ve taught us or just the pure act of them loving us.

Credibility Material: My grandpa wasn’t just “Big Daddy” to his family, but to every person he came in contact with. He was like a universal father to all and had so much love to give.

Thesis & Topic Preview: My grandpa was the best person I knew and today I am going to tell you first about his strength, second about how he was caring to all and third about the most important lesson he taught me: that silence can be beautiful.

(Transition into Body of Speech) Now let me first tell you about Big Daddy’s strength.


  1. Main Point #1: My grandpa was a strong and patient man.
  2. DEFINE: Growing up on a farm in Mississippi as a black man was not easy for him. He dealt with segregation and faced adversity just for the color of his skin.
  3. ILLUSTRATE: He persevered through the discrimination and enlisted into the army where he became a medical technician, helping other people regain their strength in order to serve their country during WWII.
  4. EXPLAIN: After his time in the service, he moved north to Minnesota and continued to fight discrimination and help everyone regardless of their culture by joining the human rights commission in Roseville, MN. The patience and strength he had when it came to the daily struggles of being a black man is something I admire most about him.

Summary: My grandfather, as you can see, was strong.

Preview: A second thing I admire about my grandpa was how caring he was to everyone.

  1. Main Point #2 (second aspect, point, or idea about topic): My grandpa truly was a big daddy to all and one of the most caring people I’ve met.
  2. DEFINE: He was always driving people to church, volunteering at the VA hospital and always made time for his grandchildren, making it a point to have a special connection with all 16 of us.
  3. ILLUSTRATE: My grandpa always kept a stock of raisins for me in his cupboard whenever I visited because they were my favorite snack and he loved to make sure the squirrels, bunnies, and birds in his backyard were fed as well. He actually could get squirrels to eat club crackers out of his hand and every day the squirrels would return for more!
  4. EXPLAIN: Theses simple kind gestures are just a snippet of the type of caring person my grandpa was.

Summary: He could be relied on, and never expected anything in return whenever he helped.

Preview: The last reason why I admire my grandpa so much is because of a very important lesson he taught me.

III.  Main Point #3 (third aspect, point, or idea about your topic): My grandpa taught me that silence can be beautiful.

  1. DEFINE: In the last few moments I shared with my grandpa the last time I saw him before he passed away, we sat in silence while he rubbed my back. It was in those few moments that I now look back on to reflect on the most important lesson he taught me and how much was said without words.
  2. ILLUSTRATE: Words are not always needed to show someone you love them. Just being in my grandpa’s presence I could feel the love he had for me and everyone around him. This lesson he taught me has helped me to become a better listener to everyone around me and also how to be a calm and peaceful person.
  3. EXPLAIN: He was peaceful, full of strength and knew that not every action needed to be accompanied with an explanation for why he did things. He just helped because he cared. He loved because he could and he stayed silent with me in those last few moments because he had nothing but comfort to give.

(Transition to the end…) I truly wish that everyone could feel the comfort my grandpa gave to many.


Signal an End: In conclusion, it’s not hard to see why my grandpa was one of my favorite people.

Summary: He showed me just how strong and caring a person can be and also taught me that there is beauty in silence.

Goodwill Audience Tie: When you think about the person who has inspired your life in a major way, maybe you can look back on the silent moments with them and think about what was communicated without words.

Concluding Clincher: And even though Big Daddy is no longer alive today, I still carry with me his peaceful silence and can hear him in my heart.





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The Public Speaking Resource Project Copyright © 2018 by Lori Halverson-Wente and Mark Halverson-Wente is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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