If you have been with your organisation for a while, your retirement speech is an opportunity to wrap up your career with impact and professionalism.

An effective retirement speech will include reflections on your experience; gratitude towards colleagues, family members and others who supported you; friendly humour; and a positive view of the future.

Let’s look at these elements of a retirement speech more closely.

Reflect on your experiences in your retirement speech

As part of your retirement speech, you can offer insights into how the organisation has changed over the years and how you have changed with it. If you remember, you might start with reflections on your first days on the job. This could include the story of how you started your career.

If you have been with the organisation for a long time, you can talk about how the market developed and how the business adapted to meet those changes. Your retirement speech can cover challenges and crises that were faced over the years and how they were overcome.

Show your gratitude during your retirement speech

Your retirement speech is a good time to thank the people who have helped you during your career: colleagues, mentors, bosses, family members and friends. Even if a person is not in the audience, or no longer living, you can still express your gratitude for the assistance provided during your career.

Include humour in your retirement speech

Mentioning some of the humorous situations during your career will make your retirement speech more interesting. Even things that didn’t seem funny at the time might be entertaining during your retirement speech. For example, I when I wrote a speech for leader of a vocational education provider, she told a story of her first days at the institution as a fledgling hospitality industry trainer. The institution was still under construction and the kitchen facilities were not ready to use. When she brought this up with her supervisor, he told her to walk to a local park and use a public barbecue to teach cooking classes. It did not seem funny to her at the time. She was discouraged and wanted to quit after a few days. However, she stayed with the institution for 30 years, was part of its growth and eventually become its director.

Paint a positive picture of the future

You can speak about your plans, whether they include freelance consulting, travel, volunteer work or pursuing your hobbies. In addition, you can speak about the future of the organisation or industry, including what you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities. Whatever your outlook is, end on a positive note and offer best wishes to the to the company and staff.

What is the right length for retirement speech?

The length of your retirement speech will depend on the situation and how much you want to cover. If you have several interesting stories to tell, you might need 15 minutes to include them. If you want to keep it short, you might only need five minutes.

Michael Gladkoff