Do you want to deliver a heartfelt speech for a colleague who’s leaving work but are unsure how to do it?
Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
For many people, retirement from a place of work can be a very emotional experience. Especially if they’ve been at a place of work for a long time, leaving it–and the people they’ve worked with–can be quite tough. After all, with retirement, an employee is going to be leaving his or her employment permanently.
And this emotional roller-coaster is not exclusive to a the person retiring.
Their co-workers, too, can land a seat at it. Especially if they were close to the person retiring or are quite close to retiring themselves.
But even if you’re not at the front seat of the rollercoaster and simply wish to deliver a nice speech to a friendly co-worker finally leaving the company, finding the right words for the speech can be a confusing task.
Writing and delivering a speech is a tough job.
A good retirement speech needs to factor in many elements. Farewell speeches are important as they express to the person leaving the place of work gratitude for the effort, time, and experiences they’ve provided to the company. They usually include a person’s past history, achievements, services, etc. And are an essential element of a good place of work.
We’re there to help you.
What Is A Retirement Speech?
A retirement or farewell address is a speech that is delivered by or for an individual leaving a work position or workplace. They are often used by public figures like politicians, actors, etc. as a capstone to their career, or as statements from persons giving reasons for their leaving.
In a workplace, a farewell speech is often given by a junior member of the organization. A friend, colleague, or junior member are a few common choices for delivering a farewell speech. Sometimes, if a person has done remarkable work or has left an imprint on the organization, the speech might be given by a senior member of the company.
As mentioned above, retirement speeches are delivered to thank an employee leaving a workplace for all the time, effort, and experience that was offered by them to the company throughout their tenure, and is a necessary element of a good and progressive place of work that values its employees.
What Do I Need To Include In A Retirement Speech?
1. Talk About Their Achievements
Who doesn’t like reminded about the good stuff they’ve achieved in life, right? This can be especially important during a farewell speech, as a way of thanking the collegue for the positive elements that they’ve added to the company over the years.
While it’s a good idea to add big achievements, you can also make it more special for the collegue by mentioning something small that they might have done that got overshadowed by all the other big stuff. The leaving person might not even be aware of doing it!
For example, if the collegue was someone who could always make people’s Mondays feel like Fridays, then that’s a pretty big achievement too, right? Make sure to include it in your speech!
2. Narrate Anecdotes and Stories
What’s an emotional speech without a story or two, eh?
Anecdotes and stories are not just a great way of making a speech lively and interesting, but they can also make the speech more personal both; for the person leaving and the ones staying behind.
So, try to include at least 2-3 anecdotes in your speech.
If you don’t know the co-worker that well or are simply unsure of what to include, you can reach out to someone who was close to the person retiring and ask for their input.
Regardless, stories have the power to really captivate an audience as long as we use the 3 core elements of
- Final Takeaway
We’ve elaborated on these storytelling tactics in great detail in this video which I HIGHLY recommend you check out if you have a retirement speech coming up:
3. Don’t Forget The Jokes
Humor is a great way to level up any speech, and a retirement speech is no exception to it’s charm. Humor works to lighten the overall mood, which can be quite heavy for a day like this.
So, try to sprinkle a couple of jokes throughout your speech. You can even combine jokes and anecdotes and tell a funny story–maybe a memorable incident that happened with the retiring co-worker in the past!
For more information on how to make your speech funny, check out our article on A Guide To Using Humor In Your Speech.
4. Add A Personal Touch
Don’t just copy paste a random speech from Google. Instead, take your time with the speech. Remember that retirement is a cornerstone in most people’s life, and treat it as such.
Adding little personal details here and there–little quirks that your colleague had, or memorable moments they had at the workplace–goes a great way to make the person in question feel important, liked, and most importantly: appreciated for their efforts.
5. Talk About Their Personality
What was the colleague like? What made them different from other people in the workplace? If there was one word that you could describe their personality, what would it be?
Talking about their personal qualities makes the person retiring more real. It reminds them–and the people listening–that they were not just another part in a corporate machine, but a human being. That is someone with feelings, memories, good days, and bad days–just like you.
6. Don’t Neglect Speaking About The Future
While it’s important to give due importance to the past while delivering a retirement speech, it’s also imperative to not neglect talking about what’s ahead i.e the future. Often, people can get so fixated on the good stuff in the past that they don’t notice the amazing stuff coming up ahead.
Is there something the person leaving always wanted to do, but couldn’t because they were so busy with work?
Say, did they always want to go to a nature retreat, spend more time with their spouse, or work at that bar at the end of the street?
Well, now would be the time to bring that up!
Don’t just ramble on about stuff that’s already done. Talk about the opportunities coming upz too!
7. Include mementos and gifts
If a colleague is leaving work–especially if they’re someone who’s contributed a lot to a place–chances are, they’re going to be given a small memento for their work all these years. This can be given by anyone–another co-worker, you, or even higher-ups.
So, make sure to check in with your co-workers about the status of a memento. If it’s going to be included, you can include a small introduction leading up to the handing of the gift right into your speech end.
8. When In Doubt, Ask
This piece of advice can come especially in handy if you didn’t know the former co-worker that well. If you’re unsure whether to include a personal detail or not–or are simply in a dearth of personal information–go ahead and ask someone else for their input. This someone else can be anyone: a close friend of the colleague, a family member, your boss, or even the colleague themself!
Don’t be shy to ask questions.
Sample Retirement Speech
Today is the day you retire from St.Mary’s Public School after over twenty years of teaching English to high-schoolers—most of whom had no interest in learning anything in the first place!
In spite of this hindrance, you never ceased delivering the best you possibly could. When you first started working with us, you were simply a substitute teacher that the students saw occasionally. Remember your first day and the prank that the students played on you?
The entire class banded together and attacked you with a string of questions—none of which had anything to do with English, by the way. But instead of waiting for you to answer, the moment you opened your mouth, the student pretended to fall asleep!
Once you got the hang of it, you turned into a prankster yourself! You played along with the class by listening to a student begin a question but then acted like you’d fallen asleep—just like they had when you were trying to answer—before they finished it.
It was the first time a teacher had chosen to not only indulge their silly pranks but also pranked them right back! Instead of punishing them, you tried to understand them, to relate to them. And you continued trying to do so for the rest of the week.
The students fell in love with you that day, and their admiration for you only grew over the next week. I know this because a few days later when I showed up for class, nobody wanted to learn anything about Shakespeare!
And yet, you not only managed to befriend the students, but you also became friends with the teachers!
You were the only topic of discussion—both, in the classroom and later, in the staff room. In fact, your little stunt with the students had made most of the other teachers realize that they needed to step up their game, too! We had a friendly little competition going after you joined us permanently!
And this was not an isolated incident. Over the years, you have inspired and connected with multiple generations of students and classrooms. So many children have fallen in love with the English language because you taught them to love it.
Just look around the room and you will know that I’m telling the truth—although the crowd could also be because this is probably the last time many of us will get to gobble down your famous baking concoctions!
Truly, we will miss your cookies almost as much as we will miss you!
You have spent almost your whole shaping the lives of people who would later go on to shape the world. You have given your one hundred percent to the classroom—now it’s time you give your one hundred percent to yourself!
During one of our many, many heartfelt conversations, you told me that when you finally retired, you would love to travel the world with your husband and to get to spend more time with your grandchildren.
Well, now you can!
And we can’t wait for our Facebook Feed to be spammed by all the pictures you’re certainly going to upload!
Now, we’d love you to have this little token of appreciation for all the work you’ve done for our school.
5 Ways To Make A Retirement Speech (More) Special
Now that you know all the stuff you need to include in a retirement speech and have an example of how to phrase it in hand, let’s move onto the next step: how to add that touch of uniqueness to your speech and make it truly memorable.
1. Prepare A Skit
Adding a skit is an excellent way of making a retirement speech memorable. The theme for the skit can be anything. However, make sure it’s relevant to the retiring person’s life. A good idea is to structure the skit around some memorable incident from the person’s time at the workplace.
It can be a funny incident, or an emotional one, or even an instance when they inspired you!
If you’re not sure about which incident to pick, try asking someone who’s close friends with the person. The skit doesn’t need to be over-the-top or elaborate. You don’t need to get costumes or spend hours preparing it. Everyone has work to do and deadlines to meet.
To save time, you can stick to a simple 3-5 minute skit with simple dialogues and few characters. You don’t need to dress up, either.
It’s the thought that counts, after all.
2. Make A Video!
A video is another great way of making a retirement speech memorable.
To do this, collect videos and photographs or any other material relevant to the departing employee and organize the contents into a small video that you can show either before or after your speech! Make sure the video isn’t too long, and that it has a positive note.
3. Give Them A Personalized Souvenir
While a token of appreciation is something they’re going to get from the company’s side, if a co-worker has truly touched your life, then giving them a personalized souvenir from the employee’s side is another great idea to make a retirement day unforgettable.
The souvenir doesn’t have to be something expensive or over-the-top either. Rather, something handmade or something personalized might be a better idea.
For example, you can give the employee a jar filled with little note cards that the other employees have written for them.
4. Switch Up The Format
Another way to make a retirement speech unique is by switching up the traditional speech format for something more fun!
Instead, you could write and deliver the speech like a poem–or even a short story! If you want to make things even more interesting, you can turn it into a continuous story by involving a couple of more people with you! However, make sure to check in with the management before you do so, as time constraints or following a standard speech format might be an issue.
If you want some inspiration on unique storytelling formats and approaches you can use for your retirement speech, we’ve explained a few in simple terms in this video:
5. Coordinate Your Dressing
Is there a particular way your retiring co-worker always dressed? A color or pattern they favored? Or a shirt they couldn’t seem to get rid of?
Well, now’s the time to use their personality quirks to your advantage!
Try remembering if there’s anything related to dressing sense that set your departing colleague apart, and coordinate with the rest of your colleagues to spruce up as they once did!
Remember: it’s not necessary to look like carbon copies of your departing friend. You don’t need to stress if your T-shirt is the exact color or pattern as theirs. A close-copy works just as well.
To sum up, writing a retirement speech for a colleague is not as hard as it sounds. Retirement speeches are offered to commemorate a work that an employee has done for a company and are usually delivered by close friends, fellow co-workers, or sometimes even someone higher up. They usually include a person’s past history, achievements, personality quirks, memorable incidents, etc. Add a touch of uniqueness to the mix, and you’re ready to bid adieu to your colleague with a bang!