Speaking at a funeral

It is impossible to sum up someone’s life during an hour long ceremony. If you are delivering the eulogy or are a speaker, try to remember to the following:

•  You may become emotional as you speak, so write down what you want to say – in BIG print so you, or someone else can read it if necessary. Ideally, don’t rely on reading off your phone – as so often there are technical hic-cups.

•  Days before hand – coordinate with other speakers to eliminate repetition. Each cover different aspects of their life; growing up & family, career & colleagues, pastimes or hobbies.

•  Keep to a maximum of 5 minutes. You can cover a lot of ground in a well-crafted speech, remember that it is about them and not you.

Rather than a series of chronological dates and places – tell a story, unique to you and the person who has died. If appropriate, it can be a funny anecdote, build up to a good laugh at the end, a great way to release some energy.

Open mic or open floor

This is an invitation to those who have not been officially shoulder tapped to speak briefly and share their stories and connection with the person who has died. For this to work – it needs some careful management by the celebrant.

Ideally people need to be prepared – to have something written and be clear about what they want to say. Often people become quite nervous, repeat what others have said and talk predominately about themselves and for far too long. This can have a detrimental affect on the tone of the funeral and cause problems with timings and bookings.

If you are not confident that an open mic can be contained, respectful and relevant – don’t entertain the idea. Instead, you can ask people to share their childhood or work stories by email and have an email address in the order of service, or have a mic at the ‘aftermatch’, less formal and time critical.