Now you have finished writing your funeral speech, it is critical to practice it. You should do this multiple times. I would suggest you do this in multiple stages:
1. Practice alone- the first thing you should do is read your speech out loud to yourself several times, until you are familiar with it.
2. Practice alone in the mirror or videotape yourself – The next thing you should do is to practice in the mirror or better yet in front of a video camera. Remember, you want to look up and make eye contact with the audience as often as possible, so you should practice this. It will get easier as you learn your speech.
3. Practice in front of a family member or close friend – You should do this several times, and be able to deliver your funeral speech without becoming too nervous or upset. Ask your ‘test audience’ to give you honest feedback. Some questions to ask might be:
Is the tone OK? Is it too somber or too humorous?
Can any of the stories or jokes included be taken the wrong way?
Was I speaking too fast?
Do I have any ‘filler words’ (umm, like, etc. that come out of your mouth subconsciously during pauses)
Did I make a reasonable amount of eye contact?
Is there anything else you can tell me that might make this better? Please be critical and honest…
Delivering the Eulogy- Tips for speaking at a funeral
The actual delivery of a funeral tribute maybe the most difficult part of being asked to give the eulogy. What you have to remember here is to be yourself. No one expects you to give a presidential address or sound like professional orator. Try to be as relaxed and composed as possible. There are some questions you should ask before speaking, and some things too keep in mind below that can really help you out.
- Expect it to be different than your practice rounds – No matter how times you’ve practiced your funeral speech, standing in front of the other family and friends of the deceased will cause a surge of emotion.
- Bring a written copy – Ideally, you won’t have to refer to it much, as you’ve practice sufficiently, but becoming unhinged is a distinct possibility on such an emotional occasion. Better to read off your written copy than to draw a complete blank. Don’t make the information too dense or you won’t be able to find your place.
- Have some water there – Water is the friend of any speaker. Taking a drink of water gives you a few seconds to organize your thoughts, find your place, or get over a particularly difficult wave of emotion.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a minute – If you are too overwhelmed with emotion, and need a few seconds to compose yourself, most audiences will understand this, especially if you were very close to the deceased. Apologize and ask for a minute, and continue when you can. You should also make sure you have some tissues handy in case you need to wipe your eyes or blow your nose.
- Have a back-up – If you are unsure you’ll be able to finish the eulogy, provide someone with a copy to carry on in case you simply cannot continue. This might be someone officiating at the funeral, as opposed to someone else in the funeral party. If the officials are not comfortable continuing with something as personal as the eulogy, pre-select a poem or a reading that they can step in with.
Once your part in the service is over, join the others secure in the knowledge that your efforts have helped them to feel some comfort in this difficult time, and brought them a little closer to the deceased. Imagine the pride the deceased would have in you for taking on and succeeding in this difficult challenge.
Be sure to look at the resource page for materials to help you prepare.