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5 Tips for Delivering a Powerful Eulogy

eulogy template

Today your best friend’s wife called and asked you to deliver the eulogy for her husband’s upcoming funeral. A eulogy is a speech or written tribute giving high praise to a deceased person. Immediately you agree to do this and feel honored to have been asked. Later that day as you sit down to write the eulogy you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed, have no idea where to start, and stare at the blank paper or screen for a long time. What do you say? What impact did this person have on your life and on the life of others? How do you begin to sum up the accomplishments and the influence your best friend had on you and others over the years? These are great questions and certainly not an easy task.  A well prepared and delivered eulogy not only helps the family but helps those attending the service who did not know the individual as well, have a great sense of who they were, what mattered to them and how they positively impacted other people’s lives. I thought it might be helpful to provide the following 5 steps to help you craft a powerful eulogy.

1. Be Concise
I have heard eulogies that were a historical recitation of the person’s life. For example, in 1935 they did this, in 1936 they did this and in 1937 they did that, and so on. While this might be helpful, most people have stopped listening by this point. Instead, think through how you knew the deceased and what they meant to you. Then note 7 highlights of the person’s life. Maybe it was their contributions in the workplace, their love of family, how they volunteered in the community, a favorite hobby, or sport of interest. When you have these areas identified write out 3 or so examples or stories to reinforce your point.

2. Humour
Humour can be very effective when used appropriately. Telling funny stories – anecdotes that all people can relate to helps relieve some of the emotional tension that people feel at funerals. Maybe the deceased had a quirky sense of humor, liked a particular song, or had a funny saying. Incorporating these in the eulogy helps others to have a greater sense of the deceased.

3. Type it out
Delivering a eulogy is a huge responsibility and winging it is not a good idea. Write out your eulogy and very likely you will have several drafts before you are pleased with the final product. Additionally type out the eulogy; double spaced, in a bold font, and number your pages. Many times I have seen people lose their place while delivering a eulogy and the discomfort and tizzy they go through to get back on track is painful to watch.

4. Practice
We hear this so often in other areas of our lives that practice makes perfect. While perfection is desirable, very good is also fine. Practicing the eulogy helps you to calm your emotions and recognize where you need to pause or add additional information. Practice out loud several times and if you are really brave practice with a trusted friend. If you are even braver, tape your practice sessions so you can see what gestures you may want to eliminate or minimize.

5. Record
We often think we will remember the eulogy at a funeral or memorial service. In fact most of us do not remember much during the funeral at all. Many funeral homes are equipped to record the funeral or memorial service. Consider asking the funeral home to record the service. Having the service recorded also allows people to participate in the service remotely and provides you with a copy of the service to revisit at a later date.

If the funeral home cannot record the service, then consider giving a typed copy of the eulogy to the family. Delivering a well written eulogy for your best friend can be one of the most powerful lasting gifts you can give your friend and their family.

If you would like to receive a complimentary copy of my Eulogy template, please connect with me at katdowney@legacymatters.ca.

As always I welcome your feedback and questions. You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Until next time


Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, radio host, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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