- 3 methods: Write your tribute out word-for-word, write a few notes to jog your memory, or speak completely off the cuff. I advise against the latter.
- A good tribute is usually three to seven minutes. Rehearse out loud so that you know.
- Start writing as early as you can. It’s often a bigger task than you think.
- Ask others to read or listen to your tribute. A different perspective often helps.
- Send a copy of your tribute to whoever’s organising the funeral and/or the other speakers so that everyone’s informed, coordinated and at ease.
What to Say
- Deliver personal stories or anecdotes.
- Describe the person in three to eight words (e.g. generous, joyful, cheeky) and tell stories and anecdotes that illustrate each of these qualities.
- Write a letter. Once you’ve written “Dear Dad / Nana / Glenda / Bill”, for example, the rest is likely to flow.
- Speak about how the person who’s passed away has influenced your life, character, values or outlook.
- What did you enjoy most? What will you miss most?
- Speak about their legacy.
- Retell the deceased’s favourite story.
- Write down everything you can think of about that person in five minutes. A theme tends to reveal itself.
- You might focus on what was special or unique about that person.
- using formal language e.g. “George completed his education and commenced employment.” Use everyday language – “George finished school and began work.”
- excessive detail – Does everyone need to know that Sue married on a sunny Saturday afternoon on the 25th of September 1953 in St Monica’s Church on Plenty Rd, Bundoora? How about, “Sue married Bert in her early 20s.”
- keeping strictly to a timeline – Unless you’ve been asked to deliver a section of the eulogy, keep it hearty and personal.
- We can only speak about positive things at funerals. Not so. Why sanitise a life story? With the family’s approval, a frank, but compassionate story can be heart-warming. None of us are perfect.
Coping with Grief and Nerves
- Wriggle your toes. This will help you relax tense muscles and come back into the moment.
- Remember that many people in the room are likely to admire the fact that you’re doing something that they wouldn’t dream of.
- Make eye contact with individuals in the room. A sense of control is likely to return to you.
- Expect a funeral audience to be conservative, but know that inwardly they’re likely to be much more engaged with you than you can see.
- Have a backup person who can take over if you need a hand.