Most people have a bit of notice when asked to give a eulogy. This allows them to be well-prepared when it comes time to deliver the eulogy. But what if you are asked at the last minute to say something? This could happen for a number of reasons. Perhaps the person who was scheduled to deliver the eulogy was not able to do so. Maybe the family decided, at the last minute, that they would like to hear from you.
Whatever the reason, writing a last-minute eulogy can be stressful, but you can still deliver a eulogy that is touching and appropriate. Here are some tips for writing last minute eulogies.
One Good Story
Think about the person who passed away. Is there one good story that stands out in your mind? It could be a funny story, the story of how you met or a time that the person was especially helpful to you. You can use this one story as a foundation to build the entire eulogy.
Tie your speech together by telling the story at the beginning and then mentioning it again in the middle and near the end of the eulogy.
Use Some Quotes
If you are having trouble writing a last-minute eulogy that you feel is long enough, add in some quotes. These could be quotes from the Bible or other religious texts or inspirational and encouraging quotes. If appropriate, you can also include a quote or two from the person that you are eulogizing. This is an especially good idea if the person was well-known for a certain catchphrase.
If you happen to know the favorite author or poet of the person who has passed, it would be a wonderful gesture to include quotes from that person in the eulogy.
You may also be able to draw inspiration for a last-minute eulogy by considering the last memory that you have of the person. If appropriate, tell the story of the last thing that the person said to you or, perhaps, mention that the last time you saw them they were smiling.
If the person that you are eulogizing was sick for some time, you may choose to share the last good memory that you had together.
One tip that is same no matter how much time that you have to prepare is that you must practice. Practicing the eulogy will help you make sure that it is of the appropriate length and that you are familiar enough with the content that you will not have to stare at the paper the entire time.
More importantly, because you have gone over the words a few times, it will give you the best chance of being able to get through the eulogy without getting emotional.
Even at the last-minute, you can still create a eulogy that will be a blessing to the family and friends of the one who has passed away.
It is obviously a difficult emotional time whenever a loved one passes away. That does not mean, however, that you cannot find ways to inspire others through the life – and even through the death – of the person being eulogized.
If you have been asked to deliver a eulogy, consider using the opportunity to honor the deceased by offering a eulogy that will inspire all who hear it. Some people who were particularly giving are very easy to eulogize in a way that encourages others. But no matter how the person lived their life, it can be used as an inspiration for others. Here are some tips.
Life is Short
Reminding people that life is short can be very inspiring when done the right way. Work into the eulogy some wording about how no matter how long our loved ones are with us, it is never enough time. We will always long for one more day. This will remind the hearers that life is, indeed, short and to make the most of every minute.
Follow Your Dreams
If the person being eulogized was someone who accomplished a lot, be sure to take the opportunity to inspire the hearers to follow their dreams in the same way that the deceased did. While this is applicable for anyone who has found a measure of success, it is especially inspiring if the person passed away at a young age yet was still able to achieve many of his or her goals.
The Meaning of Life
No one expects you to be able to explain – or even try to explain – the meaning of life during a eulogy. What you can do, however, is inspire to people to try to find their own meaning. For example, if the person being eulogized was passionate about helping the homeless, loving his family or helping animals, you can speak about that passion in a way that will inspire the hearers to find their own purpose for being here.
Cherish Each Moment
No matter the deceased chose to live their life, you can use the eulogy as a reminder to cherish each moment and not to squander time. Remind the hearers to tell their family that they love them and to take note of the beauty that is around them while they are able to do so.
Inspiring others with a eulogy is one of the best ways to honor the deceased. Including some words of inspiration will help to keep the person’s memory alive in the hearts of those who were moved by your words.
Usually, a eulogy is delivered by one person. While there may be more than one eulogy offered, each is given by a separate speaker. Another option is to deliver a eulogy as a team. Some may wonder when this might be appropriate. A few examples are below.
The speakers are friends of the deceased from the same period in his or her life such as college friends or childhood friends.
The children of the deceased each wish to say something, but do not wish to deliver a formal eulogy alone.
The family desires to hear from many speakers. Breaking the speakers into groups is one option of how to accomplish that without taking up too much time.
Whatever the reason that you choose to deliver a eulogy as a team; there are some tips that can help you to organize your thoughts and then deliver them in a cohesive way.
Delivering a eulogy as a team is going to require that you meet with the other person or people and get your thoughts together. The first step would be brainstorming about the kinds of things that you would like to include in the eulogy. Just write down all of the ideas that you can. You can edit it down later.
Once you have all of your thoughts on paper, consider how you want to present the information and share the speaking. Do you want to go back and forth or just have each person take one turn? There is no right or wrong. Just do what will work best for the group.
Once each person knows what they are going to say, have someone type it all up. Each person should have a copy of everything that will be said, not just of their own parts.
In addition to each person practicing on their own, it is very important for everyone to practice together. You will need to work on timing, which is especially important if there is a strict time limit placed on the eulogy. You also want to work on smooth transitions from person to person. The only way to do this is by practicing together.
One great idea for delivering a eulogy as a team is to use multimedia such as pictures, video and music. Not only can this help to make the transition between speakers seem smoother, it also adds additional layers to the eulogy making it even more touching and memorable.
When you begin to write a eulogy, you must keep in mind how long you want to make the eulogy. This will have an impact on how many details, anecdotes and quotes you include, so the length is something you should decide even before you start writing. Below are some things to keep in mind when deciding on the appropriate length.
The first thing to consider is whether or not you will be the only speaker. If there are going to be several eulogies offered, it will be more important to keep yours brief. If, however, you are to be the main speaker or the only speaker, it may be appropriate to offer a eulogy that is a bit longer.
Venue/Formality of the Service
Once you know if you will be the only speaker, you should learn about the formality of the service. In general, a longer eulogy is appropriate if the venue and service is more formal while a casual service calls for a eulogy that is more concise.
Relationship with the Decedent
If many people are asked to speak a funeral, those people often represent different areas of the decedent’s life. For example, it may include family members, childhood friends and co-workers. Your relationship with the decedent should have some impact on the length of the eulogy. It would be appropriate for a family member to offer a longer eulogy while a co-worker would typically write a shorter eulogy.
There is not a “right” length for eulogy. You should not try to fill a set amount of time if doing so means that you have to use filler and useless anecdotes. Instead, say what you want to say as briefly as possible.
In most cases, a eulogy should not be any longer than 15 minutes. That is not a hard and fast rule, but a generality. Keep in mind that there will be other things going on at the service such as words from the minister or rabbi, music and special readings.
It is also important to keep in mind the wishes of the family when delivering a eulogy. Some may expect a longer eulogy, while others may want you to talk for just a few minutes. If you are unsure, just ask them how long they want you to talk.
May 22, 2010 by admin
Filed under Connecting with the Audience When Delivering a Eulogy, Tips for Delivering a Eulogy
When delivering a eulogy, as with any type of public speaking, it is important to try and connect with the audience. Doing so will allow your words to have more of an impact and to be remembered even after the service is over.
While first year public speaking classes offer tips on how to connect with an audience, all of those tips may not be appropriate when delivering a eulogy. For example, starting a speech with a joke is usually a good way to draw the audience in. When delivering a eulogy, however, this is not appropriate. You can use humor in a eulogy, but it should take the form of funny anecdotes from the decedent’s life rather than jokes. Instead, consider starting the eulogy with a quote. The quote could be from a famous person or from the decedent. It should be powerful, brief and interesting.
A well chosen quote can help you get the attention of the listeners, and this will help you to connect with them throughout the rest of the eulogy.
Eye contact is another effective means by which a speaker can connect with his audience. Even though you may feel a bit nervous, resist the urge to continually look down at your notes. Instead, look at members of the audience. Move your eyes over the crowd rather than looking at the same person all of the time.
It is difficult for the audience to connect with you if they have trouble understanding what you are saying. Be sure that you speak into the microphone. Also, speak slowly. If you are not accustomed to public speaking, this can be a challenge. A good rule of thumb is that you should feel as if you are speaking just a bit too slowly, then you will know you are speaking at the proper speed.
Pointing and hand gestures are another means by which you can try to connect with the audience. If you are telling a story that includes someone who is present, it is fine to motion toward them. If you use a phrase such as “all of you”, you can make a sweeping motion with your hand.
Remember, to best honor the decedent with a eulogy, you must present it in a way that those listening actually hear what you are saying. By seeking to connect with the audience, you will help them to not only hear what you say, but to remember it for some time to come.
photo credit: Loozrboy