Tributes are a way to honor someone important, whether it is a personal friend or a public figure you have never met. If you are asked to speak at a tribute, you will want to spend some time planning a speech to present to the audience in honor of the subject. The best tribute speeches are ones that are honest and anecdotal, heartwarming and personal, all the while capturing the essence of the subject.
Keep the tone of the event in mind. For example, a solemn and heartwarming tribute speech given at a wake will have a much different tone than one at a bachelor party, where the atmosphere is joyful and exuberant. If you are worried about including jokes in the speech because they will be insensitive, it is best to leave these types of items out.
Know the audience for your tribute speech. This goes along with understanding the tone. Keep in mind who will be in the audience, why they will be in attendance and what they are expecting to hear. A tribute speech to friends will be much more informal. It will be the opportunity for you to put your own personal anecdotes and experiences in the speech. However, a tribute speech on behalf of an organization should be more rigid to communicate the message.
Speak to the strengths of the subject being commemorated. While at some events, some gentle ribbing fair game, the tone of the event should always be celebratory and meant to honor the subject. Some personality traits of the subject to explore are courage, resourcefulness, independence, patience or sense of humor. Instead of just listing these qualities, provide examples of when these important strengths shone through.
Leave the audience with a story or description that will allow them to individually connect with the person or persons being honored. Think of your closing words as a call to action: how do you want the audience to remember the subject? Include inspirational words or evidence that will compel them to feel this way.