Retirement Speeches
and Farewell Speeches

Persuasive and Memorable

Four Knockout Rules For A Manager For Their Colleagues

Retiring yourself, and
giving a Speech?
Look here for guidance.

Retirement speeches and farewell speeches happen periodically when someone leaves your team or the organisation and if you are the direct report, supervisor, manager or the CEO, you will need to "say a few words". 

This actually is a very exciting and very important opportunity.

Retirement speeches are an opportunity

Here is an opportunity to build the organisation through its most valuable asset, its people.  It is this human resource that makes the place work, and promotes the place both internally and externally, in fact everywhere.  What better opportunity than when farewelling a colleague to again reinforce WHY this is a great place to work, and how staff are valued.

Here is an opportunity to do something important for everyone and to subtlely and sensitively reflect on WHY the place exists, the underlying values that make it great.  And that is how companies like Apple thrive, on being able to explain the why, eg “why Apple is best”.  But REMEMBER it only needs a very brief mention. In fact, it is only a couple of words or even simply how you speak about the colleague who is leaving, that will create this occasion.  Most important is to FOCUS on the person you are farewelling.

Your enthusiasm will be contagious and the occasion will be memorable for the positive feelings you generate.

So what is the possible outcome?

Consider this ...

The retiring staff member will leave and speak to his or her network about the great organisation they have just left, supportive and acknowledging their work there.

The remaining staff will see and hear how the organisation supports them, especially if they are soon to leave or retire themselves, and ESPECIALLY if this is a redundancy.  In a redundancy, this is a very important part of the healing process as the staff will need special nurturing as it creates many questions about their work and about the gap now created.

Sorry if you feel under pressure, but I have been in the situation of farewelling a colleague many times and a little preparation is all that is needed.  It is good to feel positive after being farewelled, and at the end of this page I reflect on two occasions of many when I have been farewelled myself, and only one is memorable.

Preparing your speech

Having set the scene, let's explore how to create memorable retirement speeches or a "few words" that will create that most important memory.

Words fade but feelings persist

It is the warm feelings that will persist into the future
well after the words are forgotten.

Your speech does not need to be long, about three minutes is fine and longer if you wish.

As a busy person, you can ask key staff for their best memories and you will easily gather up information to use.  Remember you only need to speak for about three minutes.

How to create a persuasive and memorable speech

The following structure has been used personally many times over the years.  It is short and succinct, and will create a positive and warm farewell. 

  1. Summarise the most impressive facts about the Retiree. Consider their work ethic, their relationships with staff and clients, customer service, willingness to go above and beyond, special projects undertaken, overtime, extra work undertaken without being asked.
  2. Dramatise one incident in the Retiree's career and explain it with zeal and enthusiasm.
  3. Consolidate and crystallise this incident or accomplishment and show what it reveals about the Retiree.
  4. Practise your speech – most important.

Personal reflections of farewell and retirement speeches

I remember one role I had in the past when I was young where the CEO hardly saw me at all as I was always away seconded to Head Office.  In my last week, he found me coming out of an inspection door where I had been checking out the new network cable installation as a new computer network had just been installed.  I remember my farewell with warmth as he used this incident plus some research to focus on my values and work ethic.  I still name it and speak fondly of working there years later.  Now why do I remember the warm feelings of this occasion so many years later? 

There are other farewells that have faded away, and I believe they were hastily put together.  So a little preparation creates a lasting memory and a possibly a mobile billboard into the future for your organisation.As a leader and a busy person, you will find this structure easy to use and it will accomplish much.

Are you anxious about your speech?

If you are anxious about your speech, here are some tips and ideas I use before each speaking occasion.  In particular, I find the music referenced here to be of immense benefit as it is written specifically to assist on such occasions.

This is an exciting occasion for you, and I wish you the very best wishes.


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