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How to Give Tribute to Someone

Whether someone has just passed or a good friend has retired, they deserve to be recognized for what they contributed to the lives around them. Give an honorable tribute with this advice.


  • Step 1: Tell stories to illustrate the character, contributions, values, and endearing nature of the person being honored. Focus attention on the accomplishments they were most proud of.
  • Step 2: Summarize the highlights of the person's life or career and wind it up with personal appreciation and best wishes. Find one line that encapsulates the person as a sort of take-away for the audience.
  • FACT: Intended as a tribute to the Marine Corps and funded by private donors made up mostly of Marines, the 78-foot Iwo Jima memorial statue cost $850,000 and took over 8 years to construct.
  • TIP: Have a plan B for the tribute, in case unforeseen situations, guests, or sensitivities intrude suddenly. Be flexible so that you're not caught flat-footed.
  • Step 3: Generate recognition by unifying your audience with shared sentiments. Suggest how the person has affected all in a way that everyone can relate to and appreciate.
  • Step 4: Speak sincerely. Express genuine emotion credibly to avoid wrong impressions that might offend or diminish someone.
  • TIP: Use the active voice instead of passive, to connect the person to their actions, as in: “He engineered...” instead of “It was engineered by him...” Hold the audience's attention better through a logical, brief, tight delivery.
  • Step 5: Start to give tribute to someone by evaluating the subject, and who the audience will be. Find pertinent facts that would apply for this group and focus on positive aspects. Have a friend proofread the tribute beforehand.

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