Retirement Speech Examples and Ideas That Get It Right

Senior woman giving retirement speech

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 create some focus for your words.

Original Sample Speeches for Retirees

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 use with a little customizing. For help with downloading or printing these sample speeches, refer to the Guide for Adobe Printables.

A Grateful Retirement Speech

Over the last few decades, you have probably spent more time with your co-workers than you have with your own family! For better and sometimes for worse, your co-workers have been a huge part of your career and your life. They have celebrated weddings, babies, and promotions with you. They likely comforted you in times of loss and were there when you hit a rough patch on the job. Use your retirement speech to pay homage to the people you worked with and the family and friends who supported you throughout your working years. This speech format focuses on gratitude and acknowledges the speaker's coworkers and family.

Grateful Retirement Speech
Grateful Retirement Speech

A Serious Retirement Speech

Some workplaces are fun and relaxed environments to spend your days, and others have a far more serious tone to them. If your workplace does not appreciate 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. As long as a serious speech is heartfelt and doesn't feel cold or removed, it will surely do the trick.

Serious Retirement Speech
Serious Retirement Speech

A Funny Retirement Speech

Some retirees want to go out with a bang! These people need to nail a speech that engages the audience with humor and brings smiles to faces surrounding him/her. During the final moments of your career, remind your colleagues, superiors, friends, and family why you were so much to be around for all those years and how much they will miss your banter around the watercooler. This speech is meant to prompt laughter while poking a little fun at the people who must return to work on the next workday. When creating a humorous speech, be sure to balance jokes and jests with grace and class. Humor speeches should never tread into the waters of offensive.

Funny Retirement Speech
Funny Retirement Speech

Giving a Retirement Speech for an Employee

If you are the head honcho at work and you have an employee retiring, you will want to send him/her off with a well-thought-out, carefully planned speech.

Tailor the Speech to the Employee

The person who is retiring has given the company you both work for decades of his/her life. Show the retiree respect by handcrafting a speech specific to them. If they are full of personality, jokes and have a fun-loving spirit, then write up a funny speech full of hilarious memories and inside jokes. If they are better known for their serious side and hard work ethic, play on those qualities, incorporating them into a more serious speech.

Retirement speech example

Retirement Speech Etiquette

When you're writing your retirement speech, keep in mind the culture of your workplace. While you want to inject your own personality into it, you don't want to deliver a speech that will make other people uncomfortable. Follow a few key etiquette tips to ensure that you stay in your lane and don't veer too far off course during your speech.

Stay Positive

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. Do your best to drum up the good and steer clear of the bad. Thank your co-workers for their passion or comment on the promptness that the company functions under.

Time the Speech Accordingly

How long your speech runs largely depends on the venue and tone of the event. If you're standing up in a meeting to say farewell, you should take less time than if you're giving your speech at a formal celebration intended only to celebrate your retirement. Ask the event coordinator how much time they set aside for your speech and stick to the time allotted. If no guidance is given otherwise, for a formal celebration, aim for a speech lasting under 10 minutes. For a quick stand up in a meeting, you should not exceed three minutes.

Read the Room

Consider your audience. Your now-former colleagues are likely comprised of older and younger people who are now all sitting in the venue awaiting your words. When you deliver your speech, regardless of the speech style and tone, be sure to address those who have been with you for many years, as well as newcomers to the workplace. Pay homage to everyone surrounding you and make sure all feel like a part of your journey.

Be Grateful

Thank all 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 responsible for pulling together your retirement celebration. Before drafting a retirement speech, draft a list of must-mention people. If you have many people to include in your tribute, consider grouping some folks into a department. For example, you could say, "I could not have made it through my days without the dedication and assistance of the ______ department."

cheerful senior man giving speech

Get Help

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. Allow a few people to read through your speech or listen to you read through a draft of your speech before finalizing it. Take their thoughts into consideration. You don't have to change up your whole speech on account of others, but ponder their suggestions in the very least.

Delivery Tips

Speaking in public can be difficult for people unaccustomed to it, but there are steps you can take to ease your anxiety.

Dress and Dazzle

Put on something clean and pressed, give yourself a shave or freshen up your nails and makeup. You don't have to look like a supermodel, but you do want to put a bit of thought and consideration into your look on your retirement day. For many in the audience, this is the last time they will see you, so give them a bit of a show. Sometimes when people put on their best, they feel more confident and ready to take on challenges that lie ahead.

Practice Beforehand

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. Knowing that you are not going into a cold read can help reduce your anxiety levels on your big day.

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 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.

Remember: The Speech Won't Last Forever

This speech, daunting as it may seem, is only 3-10 minutes of your entire life. You WILL get through it, and then it is over, tucked away to memories for the rest of your days. Remind yourself that you will only be standing and speaking for a short span of time, and then you will be done. Even if you envision a million things going wrong, the reality is that none of it likely will. Our concerns are always worse than the reality.

Enjoy the Moment

You worked hard to get to the point of retirement. Nobody expects an Emmy award-winning performance from you, so try to enjoy this one final work task of thanking the people who helped make your retirement possible.

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Retirement Speech Examples and Ideas That Get It Right