Preparing a speech at one of the saddest times of your life is not easy. Having a plan helps.
Step 1: Talk to people Talk to as many friends and relatives of the deceased as you can. Ask them what they loved most about the person. See if they have any stories to tell; find out their fondest memories. Take notes.
Step 2: Gather your thoughts Gather your own thoughts, memories, and stories about the person who passed and jot them down.
Step 3: Find a theme Look through your notes for a common theme. Perhaps everyone touched on the person’s generosity, or they all had funny stories to share about what a prankster he was.
Step 4: Get basic information Add to your notes basic information about the deceased: age at death, career highlights, biggest achievements, hobbies, and so on. Be sure to be accurate.
TIP: Jot down the names of the deceased’s closest survivors. In times of stress, names we know well can go right out of our head.
Step 5: Write a draft Write a draft, making sure it has a clear beginning, middle, and end. For example, introduce the deceased’s zest for life, tell stories that illustrate it, and close with a favorite saying or appropriate quote.
TIP: Add a little appropriate humor, if possible—and of course avoid saying anything negative.
Step 6: Practice it aloud Read the draft out loud. It should be about three to five minutes long.
Read the eulogy to a friend or family member. They will give you a more objective idea of how it sounds.
Step 7: Revise Make any changes you think are necessary, then ask someone close to the deceased to check your remarks for errors.
Step 8: Carry a copy Prepare to give the eulogy from memory, but bring a copy of it with print big enough for you to read comfortably—or for someone else to read in case you are too emotional to do so.
FACT: The word eulogy comes from the Greek word for praise.