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How to control your emotions when delivering a Eulogy – in 3 Steps

December 19, 2016 by Speaking Excellence
Public speaking tips - presentation skills - eulogy-pic-001

When my dear Father, Raymond Sydney Perdriau, passed away on 3rd December 2016, our small family was heartbroken. My mum and brother put their faith in me to deliver Dad’s Eulogy.

A Eulogy is defined (common dictionary) as ‘a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially a set oration in honour of a deceased person’. Eulogy stems from latin Eulogia. In Greek this means ‘a blessing’.

Being asked to deliver a Eulogy is an honour. For someone who is very close to you, however, it can be a challenge. To hold yourself together and not break down into a sobbing mess is not easy. The person’s passing is fresh, and you are still at the start of the grieving process.

I reflected on my past attempts. In 2006 I had been asked to deliver a reading.

I hadn’t been to a funeral with an open casket. When I walked in and saw our beloved, I was shocked. My mind was set into a state of emotional overwhelm.

By the time I stood to do my reading, I could hardly get the words out without crying. Why? Because my brain went into fight or flight mode – my amygdalae (part of the brain’s limbic system that processes emotional reactions) decided I would panic and I lost control.

I didn’t have the awareness or tools to calm the mind. I let people down.

I want to help you to avoid this happening to you.

For Dad’s Eulogy, I realised I needed to come prepared. So I used techniques that can get you through an emotionally challenging speech.

Here they are: 3 Steps to control your emotions when delivering a Eulogy.

Step 1Prepare mentally

Focus your mind on what is going to happen. Make sure your mind is clear that there are steps involved in delivering this Eulogy. So that you don’t get flustered when you arrive, and things start to happen. Know what to expect.

Then let your mind imagine how it will be when you deliver this speech.

Visualise what it will look like when you calmly speak. Imagine looking at the faces of the people in the audience. Faces you will recognise, and how important it is to serve them, with clarity while still making eye contact and keeping a connection.

Clear the space, so you can think.

Step 2Prepare process-wise

Examine the Order of Ceremony. You will be able to preview where you feature in the proceeding. Likely you will see that once the Eulogy is delivered, it is followed by a reflective piece or possibly a hymn. That’s your opportunity to let go and have a good cry.

I recommend that you arrive before everyone else. Run through the process in quiet time so you are comfortable.

Step 3Prepare physically

This step is necessary to go into this activity with a calm mind. If you do not, you will go into fight or flight mode and your brain will take to the default ‘panic’. You don’t want this.

You need to have that moment where you centre you. You also need to make sure you are ready to be ‘present’ for the guests. There will likely be people you have not seen for some time. In some cases decades. Make sure you have allocated the right amount of energy to be there for people and to speak.

Remember the guests are in mourning too. They need for you to be there for them.

Breathe – a key way to prepare physically is to breathe deeply before your speech. Continue to consciously breathe during the speech too.

When delivering the Eulogy, if there are emotional moments, such as mentioning a memory or a person, take a breath. Before you deliver the sentence. Be conscious of where they moments are in the speech. Consciously say the words, moving through them with purpose. Don’t rush them.

What is important is that you honour the person who the Eulogy is about.

This can be memorable for everyone who hears the Eulogy and they will be eternally grateful to you.

If this article has helped you to reflect on a loved one 

you’ve lost, please share who that person was 

and why they made your life better.

Contact Anna: anna@destinationexcellence.com.au

  ————Copyright Anna Perdriau 2016————

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