Do you sometimes wonder how to speak at a funeral…If you could read aloud at the funeral service of someone you loved; without mumbling but with confidence and respect?
When we lose someone truly important, all sorts of feelings and emotions engulf us and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. You might start thinking about what you would like the sendoff to be like and what you may wish to include. Then it dawns upon you – “I could say something, read the eulogy, perhaps a poem. Grandad would have loved it”
Indeed, the idea to speak at a funeral is understandably comforting. You feel you would be honouring them properly by getting involved. My advice would be “be careful – you don’t want to regret it”. Best to be prepared, as they say in the Boy Scouts!
I have officiated many services which have included people who have contributed to the ceremony in person. Of course, there is usually a microphone at the lectern designed to amplify the voice but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee success if emotion or nerves overcome you and you mumble or your voice is muffled by your clothing.
I have often found the people have struggled to speak at the funeral on the day and may well have wished they had spent more time on their preparation.
People who aren’t used to public speaking may find the whole process simply too much and this can lead to them finding it impossible to carry on. I always ask my clients to give me a copy of everything that is to be read out, partly to monitor the timing and also in case I need to step forward and take over.
Of course, none of this matters to me, but it may matter to you. So, if you are determined to speak at the funeral, I have a few suggestions.
How to Speak at a Funeral
- Know your text – Be completely familiar with the funeral reading text. You don’t have to learn it by heart but that’s the ideal really as it ensures the words are firmly in your head. I still advise that you read it from your sheet though.
- Practice in the mirror – Once a day leading up to the funeral service, face a mirror and practise reading the text aloud.
- Time yourself – Time yourself reading the piece aloud; I will need an idea as well so I can ensure the service is the perfect length and runs seamlessly.
- Record yourself – Record yourself reading the piece aloud; that way, you will have a proper idea of how you come across to your audience. You don’t want to gabble, for example. You want people to hear what you have to say.
- Make eye contact – If you can, try and raise your eyes as you read. Eye contact is a great gift in public speaking, especially when you are communicating an important or emotional message to a group of people.
- Get feedback – If possible, ask someone independent to watch your funeral reading performance and provide positive feedback on your body language and the speed of your delivery.
So now you’re all ready to go and once it’s done, you will feel really good about your contribution to a sendoff that means so much to you.
I still rehearse my readings before each funeral. There is no doubt in my mind that as with most things, proper preparation prevents poor performance!