If you’ve lost someone special, you might find yourself preparing a memorial tribute to deliver at their funeral or memorial service. A tribute is a commemorative speech that allows you to share your love, respect, and admiration for your loved one.
When figuring out how to write a memorial tribute, there are a few steps you’ll want to follow. Below, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to help you determine what to write in your tribute and how to deliver it.
A guide on how to write a tribute speech
The trick to crafting a meaningful memorial tribute speech is writing from the heart. But while it should be heartfelt, that’s not to say you should wing it. On the day of the memorial, you’ll want to come prepared with either a pre-written speech or some bullet points to guide you.
1. Reflect on your loved one
The first step to writing a tribute speech involves thinking about the person you lost. Grab a notebook and begin jotting down your experiences with them. What was your relationship like? What was their role in their community? And what impact did they have on you and others? Think about their best characteristics, your favorite memories of them, and the many ways they will be missed.
2. Narrow down your focus
Once you’ve listed out your loved one’s many positive attributes and accomplishments, along with stories and memories of them, you can begin narrowing down what to write in your tribute.
What jumps out at you? Do you notice any themes? Perhaps all of your favorite stories of your brother include a funny anecdote. If so, maybe you’ll want to showcase his wicked sense of humor and ability to make everyone smile. Or perhaps everything you wrote down about your aunt reveals her dedication to her community, in which case, you may want to focus on her volunteer initiatives that reflect her love and kindness.
After you decide what you’d like to highlight in your speech, you can begin gathering examples that support it.
3. Determine your tone
With a better idea of what you want to discuss in your speech, it’s time to determine what kind of tone to use. Tone refers to the writer’s attitude or feelings reflected in their writing.
If your speech touches on your grandfather’s accomplishments in the workplace and community, perhaps you’ll choose a serious tone to honor him. But if your tribute talks about your sister’s playfulness and love of life, you may decide to go with a more light and cheerful approach.
While it’s ok to tell a funny story or have a slightly humorous tone, remember to be respectful. Tread lightly with embarrassing stories, dark humor, controversial subjects, and jokes at another’s expense.
4. Make a game plan
The next step in our guide on how to write a tribute speech is to create an outline. Just like when writing any kind of story or paper, your speech will need a beginning, middle, and end.
For your introduction, begin by introducing yourself and addressing your relationship with the deceased, such as, “Good afternoon, my name is Alice, and Sarah was my best friend.”
Then move into the topic you decided to focus on and tell a story or two that showcases it. For instance, “When I think of my Uncle Pete, I’ll always remember his thoughtfulness and willingness to help others. One time, he was driving me to school when he pulled over to help a family of ducklings cross the street. Another time, he spent seven straight hours shoveling snow from his neighbors’ driveways. Uncle Pete never hesitated to lend a helping hand.”
For your conclusion, end on a positive note. You can reiterate your points, make a final statement about them, conclude with a quote, or even include a familiar phrase they used to say that will resonate with your audience. For example, “And remember, as Grandma always loved to say, ‘Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.’”
5. Keep it short and sweet
As much as you might like to talk for hours about your loved one, you’ll want to give others their time to speak. Keep your speech short and to the point, and don’t veer from the script or go off on tangents.
6. Practice your speech
A good speech is a well-rehearsed speech. No matter how comfortable you are speaking in public, practice giving your speech ahead of time. Focus on standing up tall, speaking slowly, and making eye contact. Present your tribute to a friend for feedback or record yourself so you can watch it back and perfect it.
When it comes time to deliver your tribute, it’s ok if you get choked up or start to cry. It’s only natural to feel emotional when celebrating and commemorating your loved one. Remember, you are strong and brave for sharing your tribute, and your words will provide peace and comfort to those grieving with you.