Delivering a eulogy is often a daunting task, but, at the same time, it's quite an honor. It signifies that you were an important person in the life of the deceased. Though you are more than willing to take on the task and commemorate a life in this way, you may feel apprehensive at the thought of presenting it.
While for some public speaking is a welcome experience, for others, it generates a high degree of anxiety. If you're one of the latter, then you've come to the right place. This article focuses on four important areas that will help you to successfully deliver a eulogy: eye contact, speed, diction, and expression. Before we discuss these topics, however, let me stress the importance of practicing.
Practice Makes Perfect!
Hopefully, you have your speech completely written and it's a few days before the service. If, however, you haven't even begun to put pen to paper because you're not sure what even goes into a eulogy, then refer to this eulogy outline to assist you. Another option is to hire a professional eulogy writer who will eliminate the burden of writing and give you ample time to practice the delivery.
It's normal to be nervous at the thought of delivering a speech, and delivering a eulogy creates a whole new dimension. In the wake of your loved one's passing, you are, without a doubt, still emotional. As you practice reading the eulogy, you may struggle just to get through it.
I've delivered a few eulogies in my life, and I'm still shocked that I got through each one without completely breaking down. For instance, the day before my brother's funeral, while practicing, I couldn't get through the first sentence without crying. On the morning of the service, I had my sister stand beside me at the podium just in case I needed her to intervene and take over. To my surprise, I was able to read the entire eulogy without shedding a tear.
Though I did get choked up at certain points throughout the speech, I think the pressure of standing in front of a congregation of people caused me to redirect my focus to the task of delivering the speech rather than the emotions the speech conveyed.
Regardless of whether you shed a tear or remain stoic throughout, don't be afraid of showing your emotions. Everyone who is listening will certainly understand if you get choked up or allow some tears to fall. Putting pressure on yourself to deliver the perfect speech is unnecessary and a waste of valuable energy. Give yourself a break and keep in mind that you are only human, and humans are emotional beings.
Let's discuss the areas you should focus upon while practicing your speech.
1. Eye Contact
If you give yourself time to practice your speech, then eye contact shouldn't be a problem. You should be comfortable enough with the content of the eulogy to allow your eyes to leave the page from time to time.
It might be helpful to mark the areas in your speech where you want to look at the audience. With a highlighter, highlight the section of each sentence where you would like this to occur. It is not necessary to look up during each sentence; in fact, that would look awkward. Making eye contact only once per paragraph would suffice. Practice in front of a friend to help you determine what is appropriate.
When looking at the congregation seated before you, try to briefly scan the audience as you are speaking, instead of looking at the same person each time. In doing so, you're inviting the entire audience to take part in the tribute, making them feel a personal connection to everything you're saying.
Though your nerves may cause you to want to get through the speech quickly, it is important to avoid speeding through it. Speeding through the eulogy only causes words to be jumbled, making it harder for the audience to understand what you're saying. Take your time and be cognizant of punctuation marks. Commas and periods are intended for you to take a breath, so be sure to slightly pause when you come upon them.
Just like the speed with which you read the eulogy; diction is just as important in getting your words across successfully. To speak words clearly, it is necessary to slow down and enunciate. Again, you may be anxious to get it over with, but, believe me, you will regret it if no one can understand what you spent so much time and energy preparing.
Don't mumble through the words, instead, articulate them clearly; furthermore, make sure the pitch of your voice is loud enough to be heard by those seated the farthest from you.
More than likely, there will be a podium equipped with a microphone for you to use. Spend a few moments before the ceremony to familiarize yourself with the device and practice a few words to make sure you're comfortable with your pitch. There may be a ceremony coordinator on the premises who would be happy to help with this.
When you're reading your speech, make sure you are doing so with expression. Inflect your voice in the appropriate areas to signify emotion. There is nothing worse than having to listen to someone who speaks in a monotone voice. Though a funeral is a somber occasion, a eulogy lends itself to reflecting upon joyful or funny memories. Allow your voice to indicate those moments. Your audience will appreciate it.
Savor the Moment!
Delivering a eulogy for a friend or loved one shouldn't be a painful experience. It should be honorable and effortless. By completing the necessary preparation, you will be sure to present a eulogy that others will remember for years to come.