How to Write a Retirement Speech


Making it Memorable

Retirees having fun Retirement means making new memories!

Your career has come to a conclusion and you're wondering how to write a retirement speech for the dinner in your honor. Parting is such sweet sorrow. You have fond memories of your colleagues, but part of your identity now seems lost. There are no doubts your colleagues also feel conflicted. They're happy for you, but will also miss your presence.

The best retirement speeches remedy conflicting feelings by leaving the audience feeling content. More importantly, they remain memorable. Because you are being honored, give your audience a fond farewell through your speech.

Most of us fear public speaking

It is estimated that 75% of humans fear public speaking. It triggers our flight or fight response. It's especially nerve-racking to talk about ourselves. People face common insecurities about public speaking such as:

  • Whether the speech will come off as tedious
  • Whether the speech will be too long
  • How much humor is appropriate to incorporate

Tips and tricks

Go pro. Choosing to use a professionally written speech offsets many public speaking anxieties. Really make it yours by adding personal touches. Toasts and sentimental poems ensure a speech will be remembered for years to come.

Compare and Contrast. Analogies help paint a picture for your audience. Your audience will have a wide age range so your speech should be relatable for everyone. Comparing your retirement or a life experience to something the audience is familiar with instills understanding. For example, you may say something like: "Retirement is similar to a new birth. I will gain new wisdom as I re-discover life." If you can connect two dissimilar ideas with strong imagery, you'll leave your colleagues with an eloquent memory.

Ten minute rule. A good retirement speech should not exceed ten minutes. Speaking longer may mean losing listeners. Your audience is present to support and appreciate you, so show gratitude instead of giving your entire work history.

Identify those who've guided you and lessons you've learned. Tell a couple of short stories about trials you faced at the beginning of your career. Share distinct mistakes that you learned from. You will stir up some chuckles from the audience. They will associate your speech with similar slip-ups they've made. It's appropriate to poke humor at yourself, but avoid jokes and stories that may offend others.

Make your old co-workers feel appreciated by mentioning advice they gave you or share how they helped you overcome a challenge.

Retirement is the beginning, not the end. A sincere and meaningful end to your speech should include an earnest explanation of what you will miss upon leaving your career. Perhaps it will be a strong sense of camaraderie or team accomplishments. Your final words should express positive thoughts about the future of your former employer and co-workers as they continue their journey.

Let the audience know what's next on your agenda, but do not dwell. It will ease them to know you're excited to pursue new hobbies or get a new pet, but the point is not to make others envious.

Before you speak, delivery tips

Practice makes perfect. Don't read your speech verbatim or you may fail to convey meaning in your voice. On the other hand, memorizing it will make you sound over-rehearsed. Instead, write down key points on index cards. Deviating a bit from the script is perfectly acceptable and sets a more natural tone.

Relax. Take a couple of deep breaths. Practice your speech by speaking slowly and clearly with good posture. Make brief eye contact with each of your audience members, rotating your neck as your speak. This gesture shows everyone in attendance he or she is being recognized.

Do-re-mi. Practice using vocal variability to add interest to your content. Nothing is worse than a monotone speaker.

Summing it up

Your retirement speech should convey an optimistic tone as you look to the future. It is a present to an audience who you've grown close to and are used to interacting with. You want them be aware you're prepared for life's next chapter. Retirement is bitter-sweet but your sincerity, strong imagery and warm ambiance will remain memorable to those you're leaving.

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