A memorial speech most commonly commemorates the life of an individual and is presented at a funeral, wake or memorial service. However, it can also commemorate a group of individuals and be presented at an event to honour the group, such as a memorial service for the victims of a natural disaster or a Veterans Day event honouring deceased veterans. A memorial speech may also be a eulogy, which often provides a time line of the deceased's life. But, mainly, it is an opportunity for the speaker to tell the audience something special about the deceased and to honour his life.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Explain why you are giving the speech. If you knew the deceased, explain your relationship. If you are speaking at an event for a group of people, introduce yourself by name. Most people do not introduce themselves when giving a memorial speech for an individual at a funeral or wake.
Tell the audience a story. If you are honouring an individual, tell a personal story that involves the deceased and shows something about the deceased's character. For example, perhaps you met the deceased while she was recruiting children to form a new Cub Scout pack because the existing one was too far away and her own son desperately wanted to join. You can talk about her determination and love for her child. If you are talking about a group of individuals, you might relate a personal story that involves that group or a similar group. In the case of a disaster, you might tell where you were when you heard about the tragedy.
Tell the audience what the deceased taught you. The serenity of a child battling terminal illness may have taught you appreciation for life. The patience and caring of a teacher may have encouraged you to succeed when you didn't think you could. If a group of firemen sacrificed their lives to save innocent people, explain how it affected you. Tell the audience why you are a better person for knowing the deceased.
Encourage the audience to remember and celebrate the deceased's life, rather than remembering and mourning her death. Express gratitude for having the deceased in your life rather than grief over her passing.
Conclude on a positive note. If you are religious, you may remind the audience that you intend to see the deceased again someday. Or, you may postulate how the people affected by the deceased will pass down his lessons to future generations so that his legacy lives on through others.
Tips and warnings
- Keep your content appropriate. Humorous stories that illustrate the deceased's strength of character are perfect, but this is not the time to talk about your beer-guzzling college escapades.
- Remember that this speech is intended to honour the deceased, not to attack the disease or event that took his life. If you are speaking about the victim of a drunk driving accident, save your horror over his death for a speech to benefit Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) or a similar cause. Keep the focus on the life of the deceased.
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