Captivate the Room

Delivering an Emotional Speech

September 23, 2019

I am running another round of my group voice program - more solo time with me, and likely the last time to get involved with one this year and help reach your voice goals.
8-week group training. The date will be set based on the group's availability.

About a week ago, I was called upon to write and deliver a very special speech. My mother passed away about 10 days ago. My father had passed away 5 years ago. I spoke at his funeral and that was before I ever started this show. I wanted to speak at my mother's funeral. I've been asked about writing for funeral speeches as well as delivering them at the actual funeral. I wanted to honor my mother and be true to who I was, and our relationship. Everyone in my family gets a little nervous when I'm handed a microphone. I was the youngest of four and was the last to speak at the funeral. My oldest brother didn't speak but my older two sisters did and had wonderful things to say.

I want to first discuss my process. This felt high stakes to me. I didn't want to miss anything or forget anything. I wanted to get this right. The day after I found out my mother had passed, I started jotting down notes anytime an idea, memory, or thought would pop into my head. I wrote my first draft the night before the funeral. This was only over the course of a couple of days, so it's not a lengthy process. In comparison, my oldest sister sat down and struggled with what to write in the moment/under pressure. My middle sister also struggled with what to write, but she ended up writing it almost like a letter to Mom.

I had split-second moments where I questioned what I had to say but I knew I had to be real, speak from the heart, and say what was on my heart, without worrying what people may be thinking. I had to become 100% committed to my message and release the outcome. It was about me and honoring my mom.

To put this in perspective for your own presentation, where is your allegiance? To what people will think, or to delivering a message, teaching certain content, commitment to a mission, etc.? What is in your heart? You've got to connect to that message and speak from the heart.

To be clear, nothing in this speech was abusive. This is not a permission slip to be abusive with your message. There were definitely things I could have said that would be negative, but why would I do that? Those things are long forgotten and forgiven. What did I want to say to my audience? My audience was my mother. What did I want her to know? Ask yourself: what does my audience need to hear from my heart?

I opened and closed with a connection. I took my notes I'd been writing and made them into this speech. I opened my presentation regarding a post my sister had written about my mother. At the end of my speech, I circled back around to this post and put my own spin on you. You always want to open with a startling statement, fact or a story. Structurally, next it would be:
Credibility statement
tell us what you're going to tell us
2-3 body parts with a transition
transition into conclusion

In this particular speech, I connected, introduced myself, thanked my siblings, and started with the stories and the memories (3-5). I talked about grace and forgiveness. I really spoke from the heart of who I was and what our relationship was.
I spoke about our challenges in our relationship in a positive way, from a perspective of grace and forgiveness which is what my mom was all about.

I linked: what did I want to say to my mother and what did I want to say to these people here who loved my mother?

I never type out a full presentation but I did for this and it was 3 pages long. I used heavier notes than usual instead of my typical bullet points. I knew it was going to take everything I had to not fall apart.

Don't forget to breathe and slow down; regulate your breathing and focus on it when needed (such as difficult parts). This should be worked on prior because it is not something you can whip out in the moment without prior practice. I leaned into vocal variety, connection to my message, and connection to my content; bringing the words to life and honoring my mother with them.

Don't try to feed off the audience; they could be feeding you the wrong thing. Be mind, body, voice connected to your message. Be knowledgeable. Release the outcome. Be in the moment. Notice your audience but don't become affected by them.

Until next time, you know what to do. Get out there and speak your truth, just do it beautifully. 

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