Speak for Yourself

Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!

How to write an ANZAC day speech

ANZACSpeech_460x306pxI love the Parliamentary Library. It is a goldmine of briefings, information, summaries and analysis of all sorts of public policy issues, freely available online. It is a quiet testament to the  power of  democracy, and  it’s the first of four public institutions that you will meet if you keep reading this post.

My reason for  mentioning this now, is that if you are  saying something official this Thursday, you should start by reading the information kit which the  APL has  compiled. It is balanced, neutral, comprehensive, readable, really interesting, and  gives you an excellent grounding. Look at it for the relevance of ANZAC ,  the (true) Gallipoli  story, discussion about the commemoration,  how the  Anzac story has evolved,  and statistics, links and extensive further reading.

Anzac Day is Australia’s national day of commemoration to remember those of our own who have fallen. Later in the year, on Remembrance Day, 11 November, we pause for a second time, sharing with other countries the tradition of observing a silence on the anniversary of the Great War’s armistice to remember the dead of all wars.

With this under your belt, click over to The Australian War Memorial, another  institution with a commitment to  accessible information. Here you will find: What is ANZAC Day? What does ANZAC stand for? Why is this day special to Australians?  You can  pick up the details of  the Dawn Service – in case you are running one, and get details of what goes into  a commemorative ceremony.

The third indispensable resource  is The Australian Army’s Anzac Day Materials page. Great shortcuts -actual scripts for speeches, which you can amend depending on who your audience is: the general public, ex-service people, school children etc.

Finally, this index to web resources from the Department of Veterans Affairs is a fantastic one-stop-shop for everything from Anzac poetry to Anzac biscuit recipes.

Delivering an ANZAC day speech requires you to reflect on  sad and sombre  matters. Life  and death, grief and mourning, tragedy and loss. These themes are inescapable.   It is common to  talk of  Gallipoli as a sacrifice, and the place where Australia and New Zealand  ‘came of age’,  no longer  just  ‘children’ of the Mother Country, Great Britain, but nations in their own right. More recently it has become customary to  acknowledge  our enemy, the Turks, and to honour and respect them too.

Your speech will work best if you can link it to the people you are speaking to, and make it fit with your setting.  What you say to a school assembly will differ from what you say at  Dawn Service at Gallipoli itself. Consider what ANZAC  represents in your own situation, and make some reference to  what it symbolises  and  means, and what you can learn from it.  Your commemoration needs to lead somewhere.

Here’s a link to three famous speakers  from the  recent  past. Watch their different approaches and see what you think.

And in closing, The Last Post.

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