Dr Stephen Boyd is a minister and professional speaker who has given 175 eulogies. Here are his tips for speaking eloquently about someone who’s passed on

1. When you sit down 
to write it

Don’t give the bio – that’s covered in the obituary. First, establish your connection to the person, and then move on to an anecdote that reveals something about the person’s character. Talk about a time when the person went out of his way to help you when you didn’t expect it, for example. Don’t be afraid to be lighthearted. At funerals, people are desperate for a chance to laugh. But keep this in mind: you want them to remember your talk as moving, not funny. Keep it to about three minutes.

2. The day before the funeral

Print your eulogy in a large font and double-spacing the lines. Use only the top two -thirds of the page, to keep from having to glance too far down and preventing the audience from seeing your face. Practise reading your comments at least five times aloud, preferably in front of a few friends to see how people react.

3. Before the ceremony

Find as many familiar faces among the attendees as you can so you feel anchored. Speak with the memorial’s leader about having someone else read your eulogy if you can’t finish it.

4. During the eulogy

Keep a bottle of water by the pulpit in case you lose your composure. Take a sip, pause and focus on your breathing. Make eye contact; if that’s too hard, fake it by looking at the back wall or at strangers, who are less likely to trigger emotions.