Start with a story
When you want to grab the attention of your audience.
When you want to describe just what someone was like. There’s nothing more effective than a good story:
Aim to speak for at least a minute, and 5 minutes at most.
Keep your sentences short (you should be able to speak each one, at volume, in a single breath).
Avoid long, obscure words
English is a fascinating language, but for funerals it’s better to use simple, clear words everyone listening will understand.
Try removing the words ‘very’, or anything ending ‘ly from your sentences. More often than not, they add nothing to the sentence. Get rid of them.
People LOVE detail
When you mention the person’s virtues, talents, or better traits; there's a magic ingredient to hook your audience. Detail.
Tell your audience how typical it was of X to offer his seat. Then, give an example. How, on one train to Glasgow, you saw him offer his reserved seat to no less than four people; only getting to use it himself, for about 10 minutes of the three hour journey.
Granted, funerals are serious things, but a funny anecdote can be just what everyone needs. Humour can be great for breaking the tension everyone will be feeling
Quotes and poems
Sometimes, the right quote or poem sums up your feelings better than you ever could. Thirty minutes spent looking wouldn’t be a waste of time.
Leave it. Then go back to it later
Once you’ve written your speech; sleep on it, then look again with fresh eyes. You might be amazed how much more you think of.
Crematoria can be dark, meaning your tablet will light up your face. They can also break, run out of battery, or perform updates at critical moments. Paper, ‘just works’.
When you’re speaking, you’ll want everything as clear and easy as possible. Choose a clear font. I’d suggest Arial, Garamond, or Times New Roman; double line-spaced and at least size 20.
Preferably in front of someone else, or in front of a mirror. Time it, and let any other speakers know how long it will be.
On the day
Arrive early if you can. Find out where you’ll be standing and try it out to see how it feels
Check you can adjust the microphone to suit your height.
Sit near the aisle or the front.
“No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
Pausing in a speech;
Resist the temptation to rush through your speech.
You’re doing something AMAZING
No matter how eloquent the minister or celebrant may be; they cannot hope to match the sincerity, or the conviction of someone who knew that person.
Yes it will likely be scary, but you’re making a huge gesture. One which demonstrates just how much they meant to you.
As always, your thoughts and comments are encouraged and appreciated.
Join me on a journey to learn more about the end of life, death, and funerals; all from a positive perspective. Every two weeks, a new post will explore this important life-stage; asking what we can learn from those going before us, and how we can apply that knowledge to better our lives.