It is customary for a person retiring to give a speech, either at a retirement celebration or at a final meeting in the workplace. If writing a retirement speech isn't really in your wheelhouse, don't worry - it's easy to write a retirement speech when you focus on thanking the people with whom you worked.
Original Sample Speeches
If you need a little more guidance on writing your retirement speech, check out these original sample speeches. They might help inspire your own speech, or might be appropriate to us with a little customizing. For help with downloading or printing these sample speeches, refer to the Guide for Adobe Printables.
A Grateful Retirement Speech
This speech focuses on gratitude. It's a gracious speech that acknowledges the speaker's coworkers and family.
A Serious Retirement Speech
If your workplace isn't one that appreciates humor, or if you feel more reflective than funny about this milestone, a serious speech can be a good way to close this chapter of your life.
A Funny Retirement Speech
This speech is meant to prompt laughter while poking a little fun at the people who must return to work on the next workday.
Retirement Speech Etiquette
When you're writing your retirement speech, keep in mind the culture of your workplace. While you do want to inject your own personality into it, you don't want to deliver a speech that will make other people uncomfortable.
A retirement speech is not the appropriate opportunity in which to air your grievances. Even if you're leaving a workplace that you largely considered toxic, filled with co-workers who might benefit from anger management training, you should focus on the positive. In this instance, thanking your co-workers for their passion (in a non-sarcastic) way might be a good option.
Time the Speech Accordingly
How long your speech is depends largely on the venue. If you're simply standing up in a meeting, you should take less time than if you're giving your speech at a formal celebration intended to only celebrate your retirement. Ask the event coordinator how much time they set aside for your speech and stick to the time allotted. For a formal celebration, if no guidance is given otherwise, aim for a speech lasting under 10 minutes. For a quick stand up in a meeting, you should not exceed three minutes.
Thank the people who helped you along the way in your career, including those outside the workplace such as mentors, family, and close friends. It's important to thank the people within your workplace who are responsible for pulling together your retirement celebration.
There is nothing wrong with asking a trusted person to review your speech before you finalize it. They may come up with ideas or insights you didn't think of.
Speaking in public can be difficult for people unaccustomed to it, but there are steps you can take to ease your anxiety.
Nobody expects you to memorize your speech, but you should familiarize yourself with your completed speech before you try to deliver it to a crowd. Reading it aloud beforehand may reveal portions that will make you emotional and you don't want to get caught off-guard by getting choked up.
Breathe Deeply to Calm Down
As you wait to deliver your speech, take slow, deep breaths to help relieve your nervousness. Envision your lungs and balloons and fill them with air, then forcefully exhale. This type of breathing can help calm you.
Have Water Handy
The body reacts to stress in different ways. If you feel anxious about delivering a speech in front of people, your throat might tighten up; a cup of water by your side allows you to take a moment, clear your throat, and continue on with the speech. Additionally, it's a good idea to have tissues or a handkerchief nearby in case you tear up.
Choose a Go-To Focal Point
Find a spot on the furthest wall of the room and make that your go-to focal point. It might be an exit sign or a clock, but look at your focal point when you have trouble looking at your audience - especially if the people close to you are getting emotional and you're afraid you might become emotional too. The other benefit to the focal point being at the furthest wall is that it will appear to your audience as though you're simply looking at the back row instead of staring at an exit sign or clock.
Enjoy the Moment
You worked hard to get to the point of retirement. Nobody is expecting an Emmy award-winning performance from you, so just try to enjoy this one final work task of thanking the people who helped make your retirement possible.