How to give a funeral tribute speech

Updated February 21, 2017

Attending a funeral is an emotional and challenging event if you were close with the recently deceased. The day can be even more stressful if you've been asked to give a tribute speech, or eulogy, to honour the departed. Public speaking is a common phobia for many people, but add grief to the equation and things can be even tougher. The key to a funeral speech is to write a memorable eulogy from your heart and be prepared to deliver it.

Jot down important memories from the life of the deceased, making sure to include memories you shared with him. Giving a spontaneous speech may seem easy, but it can make things more difficult. The key is to be well prepared. In the days leading up to the funeral, refine your notes and work them into a speech. Talk to other people close to the deceased to add their memories and thoughts to your eulogy.

Allow yourself to be emotional before giving the speech. This can be done in private with another loved one. Because funerals are emotionally charged events, having a speaker break down and be unable to speak can cause more emotion in the group. If you allow yourself to sob or release your tension in another way prior to the funeral, you may be able to be calmer during your speech.

Introduce yourself briefly at the start of your address. If you've been asked to eulogise the deceased, you were likely very close to her. But some people attending the funeral may not know you, so it's important to identify your relationship with the deceased.

Include lessons that you learnt from the deceased. Eulogies often serve to remember the person who has died and share the impact his life had on others. Speak about how you learnt things from him and share memories you'll always carry with you.

Speak about what the deceased meant to you and the void you now feel with her gone. Don't be afraid to share your feelings with the group because sharing your feelings is an important step in the healing process.

Keep your speech short. Five minutes is typically an acceptable length, but you may wish to speak for less time if there are others giving addresses, too. Speeches can lose their impact if they are excessively long, and it's inconsiderate to spend too long at the podium.


It may acceptable to include some humour in your tribute speech, but doing so depends on the person who died and the nature of the funeral. If a person lived a full, happy life and died at the age of 90, it may be appropriate to share a few humorous anecdotes.

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About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.