Giving a retirement speech for a retiring boss or colleague is both an opportunity and responsibility. Today’s article shares 11 keys for knocking your retirement speech out of the ballpark every time!
In this article:
- Begin Your Retirement Speech with Your “Whys” and “Whats” in Mind
- Simplify Your Outline
- Get as Much Information as You Can to Honor the Person
- Write a Short Retirement Speech
- Honor the Person Sincerely
- Keep It Balanced
- Ensure the Best Retirement Speech by Running It Through a Trusted Person
- Use Humor in Your Retirement Speech Wisely
- Use Relevant Stories, Examples, and Sentiments in Your Speeches
- Keep Your Eyes on the Ball a.k.a. the Retiree
- Master the Art of the Tone
Retirement Speech: 11 Keys to Giving the Best Speech Ever
1. Begin Your Retirement Speech with Your “Whys” and “Whats” in Mind
It’s almost impossible to deliver an awesome retirement speech without knowing why you want to do it and what you want to accomplish from it. It’s like backing out of the driveway and driving around with no idea of where you need to go.
Without a clear idea of your speech’s “why”…
- You’ll most likely say a lot of hodge-podge, unrelated and seemingly meaningless things;
- Your audience will most likely get bored in a minute or two;
- You’ll fail to leave a good and memorable lasting impression among your colleagues about the retiree;
- Or worse, you’ll make the retiree’s farewell awful and leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Know why you want to deliver your retirement speech and what you want to accomplish from it. Without these, honoring your boss or colleague with your retirement speech can be challenging, if not impossible.
2. Simplify Your Outline
An outline is supposed to be the skeleton of your retirement speech body. A complicated outline runs the risk of giving an incoherent or confusing speech, and ruin the retirement send-off.
Keep your outline simple and straightforward and fill in the details later. The purpose of your speech outline is to organize the things you want to say in a clear and impactful way.
Here’s a good example of a simple retirement speech outline:
- Acknowledge and thank the people attending the retirement send-off;
- Briefly tell the audience the reason for gathering;
- Give one or two admirable or inspiring traits or accomplishments during the retiree’s career; and
- Say your best wishes and farewell to the retiree.
3. Get as Much Information as You Can to Honor the Person
Talk to as many people who know the soon-to-be-retired boss or colleague well. Friends within the organization, direct subordinates and bosses, and even family members are excellent sources or material for retirement speeches.
From the information gleaned from these people, you’ll find common themes for the person’s accomplishments and best traits. These themes can form the backbone by which people within and outside the organization can remember him or her.
4. Write a Short Retirement Speech
Long speeches often make for bad ones or at best, forgettable ones because:
- Writing long retirement speeches increase risks for making mistakes through contradictory claims or ideas and untrue stories; and
- Long speeches, retirement or otherwise, run the risk of audiences getting bored and zoning out.
Do the retiree and the men and women in the audience a favor—keep your speeches short and exciting to avoid lulling them to sleep and make the moment positively memorable.
5. Honor the Person Sincerely
One of the worst mistakes people make with retirement speeches is giving insincere ones. No matter how people fake their speeches using fabricated stories and exaggerated claims, audiences and the retiree will sense it.
Do the retiring person you’re trying to honor a favor by being real and sincere.
6. Keep It Balanced
Many speeches for retiring people often sound like eulogies more than retirement speeches. This is because they dwell too much on the retiree’s past accomplishments and present character traits, which is what most eulogies do.
Instead, talk about what an exciting future the retiree is in for rather than how the best years are behind them already. Talk about how this is a new adventure and a time where they can find a new purpose or passion.
7. Ensure the Best Retirement Speech by Running It Through a Trusted Person
After finalizing your speech, you’ll need a fresh pair of eyes to evaluate it. There are reasons why even the most established authors continue to run manuscripts through editors:
- Blind spots
When writing speeches, articles, or any written materials for audiences, writers are too close and invested in their materials to objectively evaluate them. Hence, the need for editors.
You don’t have to hire a professional editor to run through your speeches. It can be your spouse, colleague, or anyone close enough to you and are comfortable giving you constructive feedback.
8. Use Humor in Your Retirement Speech Wisely
While humor is a great way to make speeches fun, interesting, and engaging, retirement speeches are risqué situations for it.
This is because typically, audiences of retirement speeches have different relationship levels with the retiree. As a result, some members of the audience might get the jokes, while some may not.
Worse, some may think the jokes are fine, but others may find them abrasive or rude. You could even end up offending the retiree.
Use humor wisely by knowing as much as you can about the audience and the retiree. That way, you’ll have an idea of what jokes or funny stories will most likely entertain and engage the audience.
9. Use Relevant Stories, Examples, and Sentiments in Your Speeches
Retirement today is much more different than retirement a generation or two ago.
Retirement used to be one long and boring slog until death. These days, retirement gives people opportunities to live life in ways they couldn’t when they still had a career.
Plan your retirement speeches well to avoid falling into the trap of using outdated examples, stories, and/or sentiments. These include, among others:
- Spending retirement mostly in a rocking chair on the front porch;
- Completely refraining from work; and
- Focusing on grandchildren, if any.
When you get as much information as you can about the subjects of your retirement speeches, you’ll knock the speech ball out of the park every time with relevant and encouraging stories, examples, and anecdotes.
10. Keep Your Eyes on the Ball a.k.a. the Retiree
Remember who your retirement speech is for: the soon-to-be retiree, so make sure to keep the speech focused on honoring, encouraging, and uplifting that person.
The best way to ensure your speech stays focused on the retiree is by creating a simple and clear outline and keeping your retirement speech as short, clear, and concise as possible. The more you say, the greater the risk you’ll veer away from who the speech should really highlight.
11. Master the Art of the Tone
Even the best-written retirement speeches can turn bland and bomb when speakers deliver monotonously. Speeches are most effective when they tug at people’s hearts. Monotonous speeches give the impression you’re devoid of emotions.
Giving a retirement speech for a boss or colleague is an opportunity to show your gratitude, love, and appreciation for that person. Make the most out of such an opportunity by preparing and practicing your speech well.
Do you have other tips for giving an awesome retirement speech? Let us know in the comments section below.