How To Say Goodbye – The Eulogy

by drjim on May 24, 2011

 Finding The Right Words For An Eulogy Can Be Difficult

Finding The Right Words For An Eulogy Can Be Difficult

Giving a speech is hard. Delivering an eulogy can be downright impossible. However, if we are asked to give one by people who are grieving, then we need to step up and do a good job of it. Since you are being asked to give the eulogy because you knew the person who passed on, this can be one of the most difficult speeches that you’ll ever give. I can’t make it any easier, but I can show you how to do it well…

What An Eulogy Is All About

The first, and potentially the most important question, that you’re going to have to answer is what is the purpose of this eulogy? Look, the person being eulogized is gone, your words won’t reach them so there’s no purpose in talking to them.

Instead, you need to realize that your words will be heard by those who are still here. The one thing that unites everyone who is in the audience is that they had some connection to the person who passed on. Clearly, this person needs to be the focus of your eulogy.

The tone of your eulogy is something that you need to get right; however, it can be tricky to select the right one. Tones can run the range from the fun remembrance to the solemn. Take your cue from who will be in your audience. The age, the background, and how the person passed are all factors that need to be considered when you are making a decision on the tone that you’ll use in your eulogy.

How To Build A Great Eulogy

Once you’ve decided on the tone you want to use for your eulogy, the next step is to design the speech itself. First off, let’s make sure that you don’t make the classic mistake of trying to tell the person’s whole life from beginning to end. Nobody wants to hear that.

Instead, what you are going to want to focus your eulogy on is the impact that the person had. The fact that the person was born, lived, and passed on has to stand for something. How was the world changed by their time on this planet? The purpose of your eulogy should be to bring the deceased back to life for just a few moments while you are giving your speech.

One of the best ways to make this happen is to make the focus of your speech be the relationships that the person had when they were living. No matter if the relationships were with friends, colleagues, or family members, talking about these aspects of the departed is what your audience wants to hear about and to remember.

No, your eulogy is not going to make your audience feel better while you give it – in fact they may temporarily feel worse as they remember what they’ve lost. However, if done correctly you’ll be able to provide them with one final opportunity to remember the best parts of the person who has left them and ultimately that’s how the healing process starts.

What All Of This Means For You

Dealing with the loss of someone that we knew is very hard. Having to give a speech about that person to others who are feeling your sense of loss can be the ultimate challenge for a speaker.

When you are asked to give an eulogy, you need to start your planning process by understanding what your goal is. You won’t be speaking to the person who has passed on, instead you’ll be talking to those who have been left behind. The purpose of your speech needs to be find a way to give comfort to the friends and family in their time of grief.

Depending on the person, your eulogy can take on many different forms. You need to match the style, funny or formal, to the person and to the situation. The goal of your speech needs to be to bring that person back if only for a few moments so that everyone can share in one last joint remembrance of the person who was.

Nobody ever gets good at giving eulogies. Instead, we all try to become good-enough to provide the words that heal during a moment when everyone is only thinking about what they’ve loss. Do it right and you’ll be the one that helps everyone to move on.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think a eulogy should be?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As speakers we are always being urged to “connect with our audience”. Now this sounds all fine and good; however, as with everything else in life the devil is in the details. Just how is a speaker supposed to connect with a room full of people who are staring at him or her? It turns out that you already know the answer – you need to use your eyes. As simple as this seems, all too often we do it wrong…

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