Your Guide to Giving a Great Farewell Speech at Work

Young businesswoman giving presentation

Why you should deliver a farewell speech

Whether you’re leaving your job to pursue other opportunities or you’re retiring, delivering a farewell speech can be an impactful professional moment. A going-away speech gives you a chance to say goodbye to your friends, coworkers, and your boss and express your appreciation for the experiences and relationships you’ve had while working there. Keep reading to learn more about what exactly a farewell speech is, the steps and tips for delivering a great goodbye speech to your colleagues at work, and to find an effective example that you can use for inspiration.

What is a farewell speech?

When leaving a place of work, a department, or even a branch, a farewell speech serves as a polite professional gesture that gives you the opportunity to address your colleagues and your boss and leave your job with grace. There are certain scenarios or settings where a goodbye speech might be considered inappropriate, so it's imperative that you evaluate your unique situation as well as the work culture before delivering one. These addresses are typically given at goodbye ceremonies or parties or in the office on someone's last day of work.

For the most part, these types of speeches are given by individuals that:

  • Are retiring
  • Have worked for the organization for many years
  • Made an important contribution or impact during their time working for the organization

How to give a great farewell speech at work

If you'd like to write and deliver an effective going away speech, you can follow these simple steps:

1. Create an outline

To start the process, you can list some of the highlights of your professional experiences at the company in a bulleted format. This provides you with a framework that you can then use to develop your speech. Positive experiences and memories that your colleagues can relate to are especially useful. Some of the more common elements of goodbye speeches are:

  • Any well wishes or hopes that you have for your coworkers
  • Your reasons for leaving the company and your plans
  • Fun anecdotes that detail special memories with your colleagues and the company
  • Aspects of the job that you are especially grateful for, including what you learned and the friends you made
  • How you feel about leaving the company
  • Acknowledgment of the coworkers that influenced you the most and why
  • Your favorite parts of your job and working for the organization
  • Details about what roles you had in the company and how long you worked there

2. Draft an introduction

In your introduction, you should:

  • Greet the audience.
  • Thank them for listening.
  • Present your speech's purpose.

You really only need a few sentences for your introduction. If you're unsure of what to say, it can be helpful to write the rest of the speech first and then revisit this section. That way you have a better idea of your speech's tone and contents, allowing you to come up with a strong opening.

3. Include anecdotes that fit the tone

Generally, going away speeches should have a respectful, honest, and conversational tone. You want to keep things professional yet relaxed. A great way to engage with your audience is to tell a few funny stories or jokes. Just make sure that your humor is appropriate for your work environment and company culture.

4. Proofread and edit

When editing, it's useful to read the speech aloud because it helps you recognize opportunities for improvement, such as unnatural word choices or an awkward flow. Additionally, look for places to streamline the content so that it is more clear and concise. Effective speeches typically last between three and five minutes to maintain maximum engagement.

5. Get a second opinion

Before you present your speech, read it to a trusted coworker and get their opinion about potential areas for improvement.

Tips for giving a goodbye speech to colleagues at work

Here are a few tips for effectively delivering your going away speech:

  • Focus on the positive.
  • Act natural, allowing yourself to laugh or smile with the audience.
  • Try to remain calm by focusing on a friend and taking deep breaths before you begin.
  • Make sure you speak clearly and audibly, especially if you aren't using a microphone.

Farewell speech sample

Here's an example that you can use as a guide as you write your own goodbye speech:

'Good evening everyone, and thank you for taking the time to attend this luncheon for my last day at Media Enterprises. I've worked at this company for 25 incredible years, and I'm eternally grateful for the advertising career I've enjoyed here. When I started, I was just another eager copywriter, hungry for that next stroke of creative genius. I'm so glad I was able to grow with this company and serve as the creative director for so long.

To my incredible creative department, I appreciate the dedication, long hours, and passion that you've given to some of our most successful client campaigns, including the Acme Hospital project last year. It has truly been an honor to serve as your creative director, and I've never had more fun arguing over color palettes over greasy pizza in the middle of the night.

To my replacement, Tiffany, it has been a joy to watch your professional development over the last 10 years. You have transformed into such an intuitive and insightful leader, and I have no doubt that you'll accomplish great things here. You have always had a knack for inspiring greatness. I can't wait to see the incredible work that comes out of this department under your leadership.

I am glad to be retiring, and my wife is overjoyed that she'll be able to monitor my takeout food intake a little more closely, but I'm definitely going to miss being surrounded by such a brilliant, diverse, and dedicated group of people. Thank you again for everything. I wish each and every one of you the best of luck.'

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