Special Occasion Speaking

Photo of a start from a game.
Where will you start? Ask your instructor for any help you need. Creative Commons photo from pexel.com


The five-part format of this PressBook is: Start, Read, Practice, Do, Reflect. Each Unit will closely follow this format. As you start this Unit, you’ll first look through the opening page for an assignment sheet and notes to instructors as well as notes to students. Second, the following chapter will cover readings that include a link to the chapter, PowerPoints, and other related materials. Third, “Case Studies” of student sample work, as well as current events, will be noted as “Practice.” Fourth, “DO” include student activities designed to help you with your speech assignment. Finally, the “Reflect” section will end with a self-critique assignment. Most likely, this parallels the work you are doing in your class. However, it will always be under the instructor’s discretion to share the methods, assignments, readings, etc. for your particular section of Public Speaking as noted in the course syllabus and calendar.

This unit correlates with the free “Open Education Resource” textbook:  The Public Speaking Project Virtual Online Text, an Open Education Resource. It is no longer linked online, see our course D2L Content Area for the chapters.


Note to Students

Friends toasting each other on a picnic.
Remember, we “celebrate” on many special and not so occasions. Will you be ready for a quick “toast?” (creative commons photo from pexel.com)

Understanding why Special Occasion Speeches are given is helpful. As you read, consider why you would give this speech in your own life. Your time as a student may require less formal Special Occasion speeches such as introducing yourself on the first day of class or more formal situations like representing the Student Senate at a public hearing on college funding. Other situations might include a retirement event for a special teacher or mentor. Some students receive scholarships, honors or have a special standing in the college that will require a Special Occasion Speech.

It also helps to envision that this unit will help you prepare for your professional and personal lives. In a personal setting, you might want to “toast” your best friend at a wedding reception, goodbye party, or graduation ceremony. Saying thank you to individuals who have gathered to assist you (such as moving) is not a formal speaking situation in the same way as presenting someone a literary award, a retirement plaque or a memorializing eulogy.

What the Goals of Special Occasion Speeches?

Dr. Scholl (2012) in Chapter 17 of The PublicSpeakingProject.Org, a free online textbook, speaks to the purpose of a special occasion speech,

Ceremonial speaking enables us to reinforce our group identities, to show admiration and respect, and to inspire others. The ability to give a special occasion speech is a skill that will prove valuable over the course of your entire professional and personal life (p. 17-2).

teacher at the white board
(creative commons photo from pexel.com)

Note to Instructors

  • Use consistent language in learning objects.
    From conversations with other Public Speaking instructors, we all seem to have our favorite types of outlines. Students discover this as well. Their English instructor used one set, their high school teachers used others. Outlines in this unit will follow one standard outline worksheet. The first task is to be clear on the particular terms used in outlines. Some instructors will consider using outlines for a more formal speech. However, it is often the case that students have been exposed to outlines and various methods of outline construction, and yet wonder, “What is expected of me?”
  • We begin with a Tribute Speech with these suggested materials and end with a Special Occasion “Banquet”
    • Why begin and end with a Special Occasion Speech? Covering this chapter initially will help both the instructor and student ensure they are using the same vocabulary. Many instructors will come from a different textbook, so they might use past language that would confuse the new Public Speaking student.
    • Ending the class with Toasts, Awards/Acceptance Speeches (to each other), and a Professional Introduction (video) provides closure, allows students to “show what they know,” and reduces the general pressure to research/organize the “major speech” when they are approaching the stress of finals, class project submissions, etc. in other classes.
  • What Chapters?
    • Similarly, each instructor will need to decide when to use the introduction/conclusion chapters. The concepts are relatively easy to understand and are easily integrated into a tribute. Therefore, they are included in Unit 1’s readings.
    • This Unit will be the opening of the class materials. However, it can also be used at the end as a wind-down to the semester and a nice “leave-taking,” banquet style, speaking event.

It is our hope that this ancillary Press Book will grow with feedback from both instructors and students, as well as tutors and trainers. Please send any feedback to Lori.Halverson-Wente@rctc.edu or mhalversonwente@gmail.com


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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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