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How to Write and Deliver a Eulogy

Learn eight steps to help you create a special tribute to your loved one.

By
Lisa B. Marshall,

Step Five: Organize the Beginning and End

Like any speech, the end of your eulogy should summarize the main ideas that you talked about.

Once you know your main points and the supporting stories, the next step is to create the beginning and the end. You'll want to start your speech by saying who you are.  "Good afternoon, I'm Lisa Marshall, one of Paul's daughters." You might also want to thank the people who are gathered and let them know that simply by being there they are providing comfort and support. Finally, the introduction should introduce your theme. “I’d like to share with you three lessons that my grandfather taught me.”

Like any speech, the end of your eulogy should summarize the main ideas that you talked about. Very briefly repeat the main ideas using different words. Then close with something memorable. Perhaps by reciting a favorite poem or piece of music, by talking directly to the deceased: "Chuck, may you always dance in heaven," or by asking the guests to share a hug or a memory with those sitting nearby.

Step Six: Review and Practice

Once you’ve got a draft of the speech, you might want to show it to another person and ask for suggestions. If you have time, let it sit for a day or two and then return back to it to make any final revisions. This is one speech you really want to practice delivering aloud. For sure, you’ll want to rehearse the parts that you might find emotionally difficult to deliver several times. 

Print the speech in large type so that you can easily see it without glasses and possibly through tears.  Keep in mind, that what's important is for you share your feelings and thoughts not that you’re a perfect public speaker.

Step Seven: Take Your Time with the Delivery

It’s normal to become overwhelmed by emotions. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s OK to take a break to sip water or to breathe deeply when you need to. If you think you might not make it through, ask someone to be ready as your back-up. Or ask someone else to read it for you altogether (that’s what I did for my late husband John).

Finally, when you choose your words remember to consider the theme. For most eulogies an informal, conversational tone is the way to go, however, at times a eulogy calls for loftier, more formal language.

Step Eight: Share and Commemorate

Remember to print and share copies of the eulogy with those who are grieving. The ability to read your words again and again will help to provide comfort whenever it’s needed for many years to come. And that is an incredibly special gift.

For additional tips please see my episode about What to Say When Someone Dies.

This is The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall. Passionate about communication, your success is my business. This episode is dedicated to the memory of Chuck Stevens. I’ll miss hearing him sing, I miss his easy smile, and most of all I’ll miss hearing him tease his little Sicilian.

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If you have a question, send email to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops, visit lisabmarshall.com.

Resources

Free Example Eulogies (Mom, Aunt, Father, etc.)
Funeral Etiquette
Sympathy Card Messages (What and What Not to Write)

Eulogy image courtesy of Shutterstock
 

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About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall
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