Keys to Giving a Successful Memorial Speech

Delivering a memorial speech or a eulogy is a great honor and is an opportunity to pay special tribute to your loved one.  We understand that this is an incredibly stressful and emotional time for you, and we have put together some helpful tips to deliver a sincere and profound tribute to your loved one.


Understand the Memorial Location

Understand the setting in which you will be giving your speech.  Are you giving the speech at a memorial site, funeral home, relative or family's house?  Being familiar with the setting will allow you to be prepared for different scenarios.  For instance, will there be a podium for any notes, or is there a need for a microphone?


When it comes to writing the eulogy or speech it is important to keep some things in mind.  Keep it brief (5 - 10 minutes).  This will allow you to keep the audience engaged.  If you are delivering your eulogy or speech during a service, make sure to coordinate timing with other speakers.

Be Personal and Let Your Emotions Show

It is important to make your speech heartfelt and ensure that your tribute encapsulates why the deceased is so special to you.  It is okay to show emotions, especially when taking a pause.  Allow yourself space to take a deep breath.

Be Specific

Reminisce on specific stories or traits about the deceased.  Due to the personal nature of this speech the specific details of your speech are important, and you do not want to simply give positive generalized statements.

Be Honest

Feel free to open-up and be truthful when it comes to the deceased.  It is important to emphasize the positives about the person.  However, you are giving a speech to help pay tribute to them.  Keep in mind that emotions and feelings are different for everyone in times of grief, so try to be thoughtful about how sensitive information might affect others.

Don't Be Overly Glum

This is a sad day full of reminiscing and grief.  It is important to keep this in mind when writing your speech as it is important to infuse some humor into it to lighten the mood.  However, remember that even though you want to elevate people's mood, this is not a comedy routine.


Giving your memorial speech is a very emotional task and often provokes a feeling of nervousness.  Most people are not comfortable with public speaking in general, let alone giving a speech on such a solemn occasion.  Practice will provide you with a level of comfort.

A great way to practice is to record yourself speaking or speak in front of a mirror.  Body language and nonverbal communication is extremely important, so in doing this exercise, you will see your facial expressions and posture while you speak.  This will allow you to understand and appreciate what the audience will hear when you speak.  It is also important to practice relaxing.  One method for this is by inserting pauses at specific moments in your speech.  It will help you to be present.  Remember practice is key to confidence!


Understand that you are human and that during this incredibly difficult time you may become overwhelmed with emotion.  As a backup plan, consider having a loved one beside you when you are giving your speech to help you to keep your emotions under control in this challenging time.  Remember, it is normal to take a moment to step back and collect yourself.  When delivering the speech, it is important to keep the following sections in mind to best engage with your audience.

Control Your Voice

You want to make sure everyone in the audience can hear you.  Consider if there are people attending the memorial who are hard of hearing.  If available, ask to use a microphone.  If you have never used a microphone, you may want to practice with one for a few minutes before hand, as talking into a microphone can take a moment to adjust to.  When controlling your voice, the most important thing is to be authentic.

Speak Slow and Enunciate Your Words

Focus on speaking slowly.   In an emotional moment like this people tend to talk fast due to nerves or stress so focusing on breathing and enunciating syllables are important in delivering your speech.

Eye Contact

Make sure that you are engaging the audience with eye contact.  This is not to mean stare at one person or area the whole time but move your eyes around while speaking.  It is okay to stop and make eye contact with an individual while speaking or pausing, but you do not want to be staring at one person for too long as this can make people uncomfortable.  If there is friend or family member in the audience, occasionally glance at them if it makes you feel grounded.  Some find it helpful to put their finger on the place in their speech that they left off so they can easily return to it.

Body Language

Some studies have shown that majority of communication is non-verbal and comes from body language.  When practicing, be aware of how you carry yourself.   If you are relatively relaxed and present, you will come across as authentic because you are.  Common things to be aware of in your practice sessions are fidgeting, overly dramatic hand gestures, slouching, and unnatural facial expressions.

Consider Pauses

When utilized effectively, pauses can be extremely powerful in delivering your message.  They can be effective in two ways.  First, a pause between two statements can demonstrate importance.  They also can serve as an opportunity to collect your thoughts.


This simple facial expression that will help to put you and your audience at ease.

The Service

When the day arrives to give your memorial speech, you will be feeling an array of emotions from nervousness, to sadness, to grief, while you spend this solemn day reminiscing about someone who is very special to you.  Remember, you have prepared and practiced your speech many times and will do great!  Being heartfelt with your words is the most important thing.  As time passes people will forget the words but will remember how they felt after hearing your speech.