How To Write A Farewell Speech
Lawerence Berstein provides useful tips for delivering a top-notch farewell speech. He highlights the importance of considering the subject's personality and highlighting their relationships within the firm.
Hi, I'm Lawerence Berstein, a professional speech writer, and I run greatspeechwriting.co.uk.
And irrespective of the speech that you're going to give, there are two or three key things to bear in mind. Firstly, there is nothing to beat preparation. Hopefully you're not watching this twenty-four hours before you're due to give your speech, but the more time you leave yourself, the better.
Second of all, don't worry about speaking for too long. Often, a five-minute speech is much, much more powerful and impactful than a twenty-minute one, and brevity is often the key. And finally, although a lot of the videos I've created are about writing a speech, please remember that you can't think about writing and delivering separately.
They're one and the same thing. You're writing to make the speech easy to deliver, and if you think of it that way, then the thing should work. So, you're preparing a farewell speech.
It could be for a friend or family member who's moving overseas. In all likelihood, it's a colleague who's probably moving on after a number of years service. So, let's presume for a second it's the second of those, and you're wondering the best way to talk to a room full of colleagues, possibly even clients, about the guy or the girl who's about to leave the firm.
And as with any speech you would give, the key place to start is deciding how you would like the people listening to that speech to react when it's finished. On that basis, you can start to plan whether it should be predominantly sincere or more humorous and light-hearted. And the key to answering, there is no right or wrong answer there.
It's about relevance. Is the guy somebody who would appreciate something that little bit jocular? Would he like you to talk about some of the funnier moments in his career? Was he perceived, or is he perceived, to be a particularly serious colleague? Somebody who laughed at himself? Somebody who would find this sort of thing amusing or somebody who would just be absolutely shattered if you use this as a forum to have people laugh at his or her expense? So, having decided the approach you'd like to take, I think a few key tips. First of all, keep it relatively brief.
However long the person has worked at the firm, you don't want to spend half an hour running through everything they've ever done and every project they've ever been involved in. Let's look at it at a higher level. Let's look at the key things he achieved, but more importantly, the way that he worked with people and the value he brought to the firm, in ways that weren't just relevant to clients, but relevant to the way that the business developed.
Relationships, at the end of the day, are much much more relevant to this sort of speech and something that people will empathize much more than somebody's achievements that have probably already been rewarded in a number of reviews, years after year, on a more professional basis. It would also be nice, even if it's a work-based tribute, to try and pull the thing out of context and look at some of the things that interest the person who is retiring outside of work. Will they now be spending more time with a hobby? Are they going off to another firm? Are they going off to work for another sector? Will they be spending more time with their family? And I think if they are, that would be a lovely way, and again, to keep the thing relatively light, to use that as the cement almost that holds the bricks of the various things you're saying about this person together from when they've been within the firm.
Now, as with any speech, you'll want to keep this not just brief, but also written in a very punchy style that's easy to deliver. You may even get fairly emotional while you're giving it if somebody is leaving after many years of working together. So, something that enables you to take deep breaths, enables your audience to listen to what you're saying.
And the key to that is writing it well