If you are stumped about how to give a eulogy, there are a few tips that can help. Although everyone is different and a eulogy should be personalized to suit the person who died, there are guidelines to make the task less daunting.
Put Anecdotes Toward The Beginning
There is a good reason to start off your speech with a lighthearted story or a joke that involves the recently departed: you don’t want to get hopelessly choked up as soon as you start talking. Emotions will be running high, and you might cry a little, no matter what, but a story that makes you laugh instead of cry is always a good opener for a eulogy.
If You Need To Have A Drink, Don’t Have Too Much
This can’t be over-emphasized. Hardly anyone loves the idea of a sudden public speaking event, but if you need to have a drink to calm down first, do yourself, the memory of your friend or loved one, and the other bereaved a big favor by making sure you limit yourself to one stiff drink to get you through the task. You don’t want people remembering your speech for all of the wrong reasons twenty years from now, after all.
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Keep It Short And Sweet
When you are writing down your eulogy prior to the event, two pages is usually more than enough. If you were exceptionally close, and there is a long-ish story you feel needs to be told, no one will fault you for it, but try to edit it down if it seems long-winded. The speech you give is just one part of the service, and this is a tough day for a lot of the people in the room, so shorter is usually better if you are debating how long to speak.
Besides their wonderful qualities, don’t forget to include why you loved the person. If you are trying to remember details of a story that are foggy, ask someone who would know to clarify (if your inaccuracy could possibly offend anyone). Lastly, leave any stories that are negative or insulting toward anybody for another day.
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Remember The Basics
The basics of making a speech are good to remember. Here are a few key things to remember:
- Remember to make eye contact
- Keep your chin up, and try to avoid covering your face with the paper your speech is written on
- Speak slowly and enunciate your words. Don’t chew gum
- Dress appropriately for the occasion
- Have someone read your speech and proofread it for any glaring mistakes
- Know your audience, if possible, and know if they can take a joke before you try to tell one
- Try not to offend anyone at the service with any content that isn’t suitable for a mixed crowd – such as politics, religion, or dirty jokes
End On A High Note
If you can wrap up your eulogy with a memory that makes you smile, positive sentiments, a bright outlook for the future, or any other positive thing, you’ll be helping everyone who is grieving and having a hard day. If you are lost at how to wrap up your words, saying something encouraging to anyone who is especially suffering from the recent loss is always a good way to end. End with a fond memory and positive outlook
It isn’t easy to write a speech to remember someone who you recently lost, and it might be tough for you to sit down and wrestle through hard emotions to get some worthwhile sentiments down on paper. You were probably special to the departed, and they were likely important to you, and from the time you knew one another, there will surely be a memory, a conversation, or something about them that made you smile or laugh to get you started.