By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker
A good speech is a mark of great respect. Especially when it's about a loved one who died in tragic circumstances.
How to write and deliver a Eulogy, a formal speech delivered at a funeral in praise of the deceased, is a rare skill indeed.
In fact it is the most difficult speech you will ever have to write and present.
Why did 8-year old Bindi Irwin do so well? What secret formula did she use to receive a standing ovation by the 5,500 people attending Steve Irwin's tribute at Australia Zoo's 'Crocoseum'.
Televised internationally and watched by more than 300 million people it was very moving. Yet young Bindi was very confident and composed.
Steve Irwin's business partner John Stainton claims she had written it on her own.
"A survey in the magazine New Idea shows 93 per cent of readers believe Bindi should follow her father's wildlife crusades as the next 'Crocodile Huntress'", is a line quoted in recent media reports.
"Eight-year-old Bindi Irwin will, in its September issue, be the youngest person to appear on the front cover of New Idea in the magazine's 104-year history," shouts the popular magazine.
Bindi's becoming hot media property, but because of her tribute speech's honesty, authenticity and expression of how she felt, it moved millions.
The 'Crocodile Hunter' legacy will live forever because of that speech.
Here's word for word why it worked and the seven principles you can apply if you ever have to write and deliver a eulogy or tribute speech:
1. Be Yourself
Authenticity is the new credo in this over-hyped, crowded, information-overloaded world.
"I have the best Daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day," still brings a tear to my eye every time I read it.
2. Remember Life's Achievements and Legacy
Focus on the awards, the recognition and what was achieved.
"I know that Daddy had an important job. He was working to change the world so that everybody would love wildlife like he did."
"He built a hospital to help animals and he bought lots of land to give animals a safe place to live."
3. Make A Memorable Statement
Everyone, including the media, loves the 'seven second sound-bite'. It's the words we remember.
"My Daddy was my hero" was the key quotable quote that made the headlines.
Here it is in full context:
"My Daddy was my hero - he was always there for me when I needed him."
4. Tell A Personal Story
Personal stories provide the human, emotional link. Make it visual and full of active 'doing words'.
"He took me and my brother and my mum with him all the time. We filmed together, caught crocodiles together and loved being in the bush together."
These are the anecdotes and memories that capture the true essence or spirit of a person. Linked with a call to action it becomes a powerful connector to your audience.
"When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals."
"I don't want Daddy's passion to ever end."
"I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did."
6. Provide Humour & Keep Positive
"He listened to me and taught me so many things but most of all he was fun."
Humour can provide levity in a sad situation. It is the pressure valve for our emotions. Always focus on the positives. Again a call to action provides a rallying point for the audience as this final quote from Bindi's speech proves.
"Daddy made this place his whole life and now it's our turn to help Daddy."
7. Keep It Brief
Bindi's speech was just 183 words in length and was one minute and seven seconds in duration. It was less than a page, took just over a minute to deliver and yet it will be remembered forever.
So will Bindi be "as big as the Olsen twins" as her manager claims and surpass even her father, Steve Irwin in the fame game?
Well, you're probably thinking, those seven principles are good and I can use them in my next speech.
But why was she so confident, calm and composed?
Here's the real secret. Professional educators will tell you it takes 10-hours of quality one to one instruction and more than 400 hours of practice for an eight-year old to learn a new skill.
Bindi Irwin has passed those milestones in front of a camera and crowd many, many times over because of the way she has been brought up.
While most eight-year olds are still learning to read and write, Bindi's home study tuition was truly unique and this is the real reason. While the context is new, the process is a well honed one and she's done it all before many, many times.
Sometimes it takes the innocence of an 8-year old to express how you feel in a clear and understandable way.
Whether you are an 18 or 80 year old, we can all learn from Bindi's wonderful tribute speech.
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