How to Avoid Becoming Emotional While Delivering a Eulogy
Perhaps the biggest concern people have when preparing to deliver a eulogy is that they will break down with emotion during the speech, and then be unable to finish. Of course, this is a viable concern because, after all, the passing of a loved one, combined with the pressure of public speaking, is too much for many of us to bear. However, there are simple things you can do to help keep your emotions at bay while delivering the eulogy. Keep the following tips in mind, as they will help you maintain your composure during what is certain to be one of the most emotional moments of your life.
Practice a Lot In order to help you maintain composure and confidence, it is critical that you practice your speech often. The more familiar you are with the contents of the eulogy, the more comfortable you will be at the podium. If you are up to it, practice in front of others, as this will help you get used to speaking in front of a crowd.
Use Humor This is not to say that you should put on a show, but, after introducing yourself and your relationship to the deceased, it is fine to inject a short, appropriate, humorous memory. When you connect with the audience using a little understated humor, you will set the tone for the eulogy, and others will hopefully follow suit by smiling a little, rather than crying. This can be an especially powerful tool for someone who has stage fright, or someone who is absolutely certain that he or she will break down during the delivery.
Focus on Breathing It sounds cliché but, during times of excess stress and emotion, you should focus on taking measured breaths. This will help lower your pulse and decrease your blood pressure. If, at any time, you have to stop to catch your breath, that’s fine, too. No one will fault you for it.
Speak Slowly While you are speaking, most certainly there will be parts of the speech that will conjure up more emotion than others, such as when you’re sharing a favorite memory of the decedent. It is especially critical during these moments that you speak slowly. When you concentrate on the flow and speed of your speech, you will be less inclined to focus on the emotion behind the words.
Avoid Eye Contact If you find that you are having an especially hard time maintaining composure because of the emotion being expressed by the other mourners, it is perfectly acceptable to look down at your notes or glance outside. If you need to deliver the entire eulogy without making direct eye contact, that’s okay, too. Simply look into the crowd, and not directly at anyone in particular.
Back Up Speaker When all else fails, have a backup speaker ready to finish the eulogy for you. No one will fault you for your emotions, and everyone will commend you and your speech partner for being prepared.
Above all else, relax the best you can and know that showing emotion while delivering a eulogy is natural and expected. Keep in mind that those who mourn with you are rooting for you to do well, they empathize with you, and they appreciate your efforts.
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