Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
Send GK Your Question »
Help with a Eulogy
June 9, 2010 |
Garrison (or perhaps, Mr. Keillor);
I am a product of great Scandinavian reticence; yet I will be called upon to deliver a eulogy at a treasured family member's demise.
Could you just give me three good rules in story telling? I have a great story to tell; but my delivery sucks.
A man with a great story to tell doesn't need help from me, Jim. A great story tells itself just don't get in its way. Don't start out with an apology ("I don't know what I'm doing here. I have never been as nervous as I am right now. What can I possibly say about Uncle Ralph?"). Stand up and take a deep breath, smile, and launch right in. Give the audience a little warm-up, a thumbnail portrait of Uncle Ralph in 100 words or so, and then tell the great story, prefaced by whatever information the audience needs to understand it. And then sit down. It'll take you less than ten minutes. Just don't take ten minutes of material and make it into twenty minutes. You can be sure of this by writing your eulogy and then practicing delivering it, stopwatch in hand. You practice it three or four times and you won't need to look at the paper when you deliver the eulogy. And your beloved relative is worth the trouble.