Tips for Special Occasions

Giving a Eulogy

Speaking at a funeral or memorial service is difficult. You must deal with your own grief while communicating what’s in your heart. Here are some pointers:

  • Write out the speech and practice it using an outline. You may need more detailed notes than usual, in case you are overcome with emotion.
  • Like any speech, use two or three main points, no more.
  • The speech should not be a chronology of someone’s life, but rather a tribute to their life. Let the audience know why the person was special.
  • Don’t attempt to speak for everyone who knew the person. Share your own feelings.
  • Focus on the deceased person’s personality, including funny quirks and memorable events. The most meaningful anecdotes are heartfelt and personal.
  • Begin with a pause, to get control over your emotions. Take a deep breath and count silently to yourself: “one-one thousand, two-onethousand,” etc.
  • Inspire the audience. No one likes to deal with death, but it’s inevitable. Help the audience deal with feelings of insecurity and mortality and help them improve their outlook on life.
  • Use appropriate mannerisms. The somber atmosphere of a memorial service does not lend itself to dramatic gestures and dazzling special effects.


Presenting an Award

When recognizing someone for a job well done, highlight the value of both the award and the recipient. To create a memorable presentation, explain the criteria for the award and how the recipient met those criteria. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Tell a story about the significance of the award.
  • Pronounce the recipient's name correctly.
  • Provide background on the recipient.
  • Hold the award respectfully and hand it to the recipient as if it were a treasure.
  • Wait to invite the recipient to the lectern until you formally introduce them.
  • Stand so that the audience can clearly see you, the recipient and the award.


Accepting an Award

Accepting an award graciously requires thought and preparation. Saying "Thanks, but I really don’t deserve this" won’t cut it. These tips might help:

  • Write your acceptance speech as a script and memorize it.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice. Rehearse with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
  • Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything.
  • Begin by addressing the audience to buy some time and calm your nerves.
  • Don’t apologize for anything. The audience is rooting for you.
  • Control filler words (uhms and ahs ).
  • Concentrate on your message, not the medium.
  • Keep names to a minimum and pronounce them correctly.
  • Make your last line expendable in case you are cut off.

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