Delivering a funeral speech can be especially tricky. Few events in life are as emotionally charged as a funeral, so having to speak at one is something that many of us find extremely hard to do.
If you are asked to deliver a eulogy for someone, there's an excellent chance that you knew that person well. You may have been very close to them over the years and wish to express your love and remembrance.
It may be challenging to write and deliver a funeral speech under these circumstances. Following are some tips on presentation, tone, and timing to keep in mind. These guiding principals will make the entire process easier to get through.
When people go to a person's funeral, they want to remember that person as they were when they were still alive.
When you are preparing your eulogy, take time to think about the person. What did you know about them? How did you first meet, and when?
Do you have any special memories of the person that would be appropriate to share with the various company at a funeral?
It's essential to answer these questions honestly and keep that emphasis throughout your speech.
Friends and family members don't want to hear contrived stories or false flattery - they want you to share genuine, heartfelt recollections. Keep the eulogy honest and respectful.
Every funeral is different. Some families view a funeral as a very solemn, serious occasion, with a manner of quiet respectfulness.
If you believe the funeral at which you're speaking will be a somber occasion, avoid making jokes or sharing humorous stories during your speech. Some mourners would regard such anecdotes as inappropriate. The eulogy is not the time to insert personal bias regarding the funeral's tone.
Let the family and organizers set the mood. A eulogy should not detract from the atmosphere that family and friends of the deceased established for the event.
On the other hand, a solemn speech peppered with a sweet, funny memory of the person you are eulogizing can be exceptionally comforting for the funeral guests to hear.
Adding a poem or quote on death might also be a comfort to those close to the departed.
The worst thing that can happen with any speech is that it goes on for too long.
Even if you are a lifelong friend who has lots of memories and stories about the deceased, don't share them all. Be selective and focus on those that most truly and touchingly represent your relationship and the personality of the individual.
Selectivity is a good rule of thumb for any public speaking engagement. It's hard to gauge exactly how long is too long. You might have a canned closing line ready, just in case, the body language of your listeners seems to indicate that you may have overrun!
A good funeral speech may be one that you never want to give. It's hard to say goodbye to the special people in our lives. But, it's also necessary to pay your respects as sincerely and eloquently as possible.
Keep your eulogy honest, of an appropriate length, and in tune with the family's wishes.