Deliver A Meaningful Eulogy Without Losing Control

This month’s question:

“A very close friend of mine passed away, and I have been asked to give the eulogy. I am very nervous about having to speak at such an emotional event. Any suggestions?”

Response from the editors:

Your nervousness is understandable. Speaking in front of a grieving audience at a somber affair is hard, especially when you are struggling with your own emotions. Follow these tips to ensure that you give a eulogy that honors the dead and respects your audience:

  • Write the speech and practice using an outline. Jot down key points you want to make, but do not script your entire speech. Writing a bulleted list will keep you from reading the eulogy verbatim from your notes. You’ll be able to connect with your listeners by making eye contact.
  • Control your emotions. American Speaker Forum reader Marlene Loeppky suggests that you begin with a pause, taking a deep breath and counting silently to yourself. Rehearse your speech several times so that you can deal with your emotions long before the service and so that you will learn to speak slowly.
  • Tell the audience why the person was special to you. A eulogy should not be a time line of someone’s life, but rather a tribute, so offer heartfelt and personal anecdotes. Don’t attempt to speak for everyone who knew the person. Share only your own feelings of and experiences with the deceased.
  • Focus on the audience’s needs. A funeral is not held for the deceased, but for the living. Recognize their pain and their loss. Avoid platitudes, such as “Time heals all wounds.”


September’s Poll Results:

In last month’s poll, we asked “Where do you most often present in front of a group of people?” Most of you responded that you either speak at smaller venues or deliver business presentations. Whatever the occasion, a good presentation brings out the best in both the speaker and the audience. Good speakers are made, not born. But it is important to have the right resources. Our Public Speaking Bundle gives you a step-by-step program for developing and giving speeches. This bundle includes the following:

  • 300-page Reference Guide
  • 100 Best Quotes for 2010 Book
  • 2010 American Speaker Almanac
  • DVD—Speak Like a Pro … And Get a Standing Ovation Every Time
  • Audio conference—Speaking in Public without the Butterflies

Click here to learn more.

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Delivered each month, American Speaker Forum offers you public-speaking advice and tips for wowing your audience during your next presentation. This resource also offers you a way to ask for feedback on your next speaking engagement and to share your own experience with your colleagues.


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