it was a funeral “to die for.” unlike some cheesy funerals where there are mere pleasantries, my uncle’s funeral was special. it was the good, the bad, and the ugly all mixed in one. he was a lot of things to a lot of people. he was a saint, he was a sinner, and he was a great uncle.
at the funeral service, the rabbi stepped up. he reported that about some years prior to my uncle’s passing, there was a knock at his door. it was my uncle. my uncle introduced himself. he announced to the rabbi that one day the rabbi would be giving a eulogy at his funeral. he told the rabbi that he wanted to spend time with the rabbi so that he would know the person that he was going to bury. the rabbi went on to tell how, over the years, they spent some time together with that purpose in mind.
the rabbi did a fantastic job. i learned a lot about my uncle’s life that i was not aware of. particularly, i did not know of his painful and difficult childhood. while we were a tight family, this was simply not shared.
why did this rabbi do such a great job? he knew his subject matter. he knew that he needed to make a special speech. he knew that my uncle’s wishes were to make a meaningful final impression.
what does this have to do with “bad” country music? many people who speak at special occasions are akin to “bad” country music. unlike the old country classic music. with heartwarming and uniqueness, “bad” country music is formulaic in nature. just like bad speeches.
let’s write a “bad” county song. all we need is some select words and we got a hit: a pick-up truck, an alcoholic beverage, a sundress, summertime, moonlight, and a sweet kiss. unfortunately, the same is true for “bad” speeches.
too often, when most people speak at special events, they are either afraid of speaking or don’t want to do the work entails to make something memorable.
thus, you get the classic “we are so proud of you, you worked so hard, you’ve grown up, and we love you” as a classic bar/bat mitzvah speech. you get the classic “i know that my brother loves you so much and that you will have a wonderful life” as a classic wedding toast. and, you get the “he was a loving, caring individual who will be missed” at a funeral.
these speeches is one of my pet peeves in life. i like to see when people honestly share their emotions. it is refreshing. so far in my life, there were two important speeches that i needed to do. each one was for my childrens’ bar and bat mitzvah. since the dates for the events were set almost a year out, i actually started working on the speeches immediately. i spent a year reflecting on moments that was reflective of them growing and becoming an adult.
after putting in the time, i was able to find for each of them a story tied to the theme. just like my uncle’s funeral, the audience learned something that did not know about and were touched.
you will be a great speaker. the following is what you need to work on:
first, if the speech is about a special person in your life, you need to take your time and reflect on stories and experiences about them that would be “speechworthy.”
second, remember the theme. what type of event? is it a funeral? is it a wedding?
for a funeral, the theme is remembrance. what cherished memory can you share about the person? was there an act of kindness that is reflective of the person’s overall character?
for a wedding, was there an act of devotion by one of the future spouses to the other that is reflective of their connection and bond?
third, keep it simple. keep it short. if you have good content, brevity does not matter.
fourth, practice, practice, practice. there are rare talents who are able to step up to the plate and hit a home run when giving a speech. therefore, write your notes and practice doing the speech “out loud.” by doing this, you may improve on the editing the speech and the making appropriate inflections during the speech. further, you will gain understanding the length of the speech.
you can do it! you can make that special event even more meaningful!
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