Speaking in praise can be a challenging experience for even accomplished speakers, especially when you are honoring the life and times of a close friend or family member. Preparing this tribute may be emotionally draining as you find yourself searching for the right words to express your love and praise for someone who may have touched your life or changed the lives of many who will be present for the ceremony. Some of the questions you may ask yourself might be – what should be my approach. How can I make this moment a lasting memory for everyone – What would the departed have wanted me to say on their behalf to their friends and family – So many questions -so little time.
Having had to speak in praise on a few occasions myself, I too have found that achieving the goals of a eulogy does depend on your approach. Another crucial question you may want to ask yourself is the following: is this passing the end or a new beginning. I have found the speakers whose focus is on celebrating a new beginning by delivering their message just as they would have, at a banquet honoring their friend or a family member are often the most successful. Those speeches are inspirational, unforgettable and remembered long after the ceremony by all.
One approach is to personalize your presentation with significant milestones of the life you are honoring. Avoid making the speech too biographical. Include a few words about events that shaped their life and perhaps yours. Another successful method is to select two or three life experiences, one of which can also be a great accomplishment that makes the individual worthy of praise. Weave a story around each event you selected. Speak about the individual’s service to country and humanity or, life lessons you learned from being in their presence. Include a funny anecdote or two about the individual to provide some relief from the stress of the moment.
Delivering a tribute can be challenging, however, anyone can make this occasion memorable. I once heard it said, if only the best birds sang, the forest will be a quiet place. Practice your delivery, especially the opening and closing. Begin with an opening statement or verse you are familiar with. Use the one you can say with ease and confidence. Focus on your words and not on the occasion. If you do become emotional, pause, take a deep breath and continue delivering your message. Preparation and delivery of this type of speech make us all realize the power of words. In your words, someone will find comfort. In these times we are reminded to celebrate every day of living and that all lives are worthy of praise.