What is a eulogy?

A Eulogy is defined (common dictionary) as ‘a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially a set oration in honour of a deceased person’. Eulogy stems from Latin Eulogia. In Greek, this means ‘a blessing’.

If you’re asked to give the eulogy at the funeral, you’ll likely experience a mix of emotions. Feel honoured, and yet nervous about how to give a speech that fully celebrates the deceased’s life.

Just remember that everyone wants you to do well. You will be helping them give meaning to it all. Remind them that it’s not about death but a life well-lived and remembered by the loved ones. This is a time for you to share from your heart what was special about this person. To make the other people there have fond memories.

But…

Communicating your thoughts in front of people is hard. Public speaking ranks high on a list of the most common fears. 

Being asked to deliver a eulogy is a great honour. The true challenge with sharing a eulogy is emotion. 

Below are some tips to help you get through the delivery of your speech while keeping your emotions in check.

Preparation

Start your preparation as soon as you’re asked to do the eulogy. Don’t wait till the night before to start pulling your notes together. Give yourself enough time to practice and memorise your eulogy before delivering it. You need time to rehearse. The more time you have for rehearsal the better. You will be aware of what part of speech will come easily and what part will be more emotional. 

 Rehearse 

Practice the eulogy to iron out the kinks. This can make all the difference when it comes to nerves. 

You can:

  • Read the eulogy silently in your head or out loud 
  • Record yourself and play it back
  • Practice in front of the mirror, in front of friends or family

 

It’s in the rehearsal that you start to process the feelings that are attached to what you’re going to say. Feel the sadness, feel the loss or even humour that you be talking about. 

Give yourself permission to feel those emotions every time you practice. When you get up in front of your audience you will feel like you already worked through them in your rehearsal.  At the same time, don’t put pressure on yourself, don’t make the reading or the ‘not crying’ into a thing. 

The goal is to not get too emotional for the simple purpose of wanting people to understand your speech. When you know that your speech is well prepared you will be much more confident when delivering it for real.

Time your speech. 

If you don’t rehearsal your eulogy you will have no idea how much time it will take to deliver. Make sure you practice and have time to edit it, to fit the right amount of time.

Take deep breaths.

Give yourself permission to take your time in reading the eulogy. Your words express emotions. Pause when you need to. If you feel yourself becoming too emotional, stop, and take a deep breath. Several if you need to. You’re feeling when you’re reading. It’s okay to show your emotion.

Just remember, absolutely no-one will expect you to do it without a few moments where you have to gather yourself together and you can always have the support of another person if you want to. They can read the eulogy if you can’t. Often knowing that you have a back up will give you the confidence to continue.

Here’s Barack Obama’s eulogy to Senator Ted Kennedy. Obama’s a master of oratory and speaks at a perfect pace.

 Arrive early

Arrive early enough so you have a chance to see the space that you’re going to be speaking in. Even better, get behind the podium and get used to how this room looks from that perspective. Give yourself time to check out the lighting over the podium to be able to clearly read your notes. 

And more importantly…

Your family and friends completely trust you to send your loved one off with the love and respect that they deserve. Have the same amount of trust in yourself that they have in you.  You will never have more sympathetic listeners. This is such a hard time, be kind to yourself.

Your audience wants you to succeed and you will because you’re well prepared. 

Get inspired! 

Subscribe now and get access to exclusive content!