Farewell speeches -

Saying goodbye graciously

Farewell speeches mark significant departures. They are much more than a casual "see you later" and a mumbled "thanks for everything".

Image: Elke Oerter: Girl waving goodbye

A planned goodbye speech crystallizes the moment of leaving, giving it focus, form, dignity and provides an opportunity to publicly acknowledge appreciation and gratitude graciously.

They are most frequently expected when leaving a current job to take another and are given by the person leaving or to that person by a colleague, manager or boss.

Other situations calling for farewell speeches are graduations (leaving a school, a class...), retirements or perhaps when a long-time member of your club or neighborhood departs. A funeral speech or eulogy is yet another form of a goodbye or farewell speech.

Specific Farewell Speeches
Click to find out how to prepare, write, deliver and read examples of:


Hallmarks of gracious farewell speeches


  • sincerity - expresses genuinely felt feelings
  • positivity - dwells on the positive: acknowledges good outcomes, projects and events without undue exaggeration, expresses hopes for the future
  • brevity - succinct and concise minus padding or waffle

Content ideas for a leaver's going away speech


  1. A brief summary of involvement eg. how long you've been with the company, club etc
  2. What you have enjoyed, admired or appreciated about the workplace, job, neighborhood, club
  3. The admiration and appreciation you have for the people - their qualities/skills
  4. What you feel about leaving
  5. Your gratitude and thanks for support, opportunities to learn, friendship...
  6. Special memories or good humored anecdotes
  7. Your reasons for leaving
  8. What, or where, you are going to
  9. Hopes and good wishes for those remaining

Content ideas for a farewell speech given to a leaver:


  1. What you have sincerely enjoyed, admired or appreciated about the leaver's contribution to the workplace, club, neighborhood ...
    eg. their role in XXX project, their organizational skills, the chocolate cake they made for special occasions ...
  2. A story or two illustrating the positive qualities of the person leaving
  3. How their departure will impact on those left behind
  4. Good wishes for the future
  5. Presentation of gift on behalf of company

Writing and delivering your speech

The easiest way to take your content ideas and turn them into a speech is to use an outline. Click the link for a downloadable fill-in-the-blanks speech outline.

The speech outline covers the main points you want to make in the order you want to make them. Once you've filled it out, test by saying it out loud.

  • Listen for the flow of information.
    Is it ordered?
    Does each idea link logically?
    Are the transitions clear?
  • Is there a beginning (introduction), body (middle) and conclusion?
  • Is the content, tone and language use right for the occasion and your intended audience?
  • Time the speech. Is it too long? Edit if necessary.
  • And say your speech to a trusted friend or colleague before giving it on the day. This is a safety precaution to ensure that you haven't left out anything that should be there or put in anything that shouldn't!

3 ways to deliver your prepared farewell speech

Choose what best suits you and the occasion.

1. Read your speech

If the situation is very emotional or you are very emotional this may be the safest way to get everything you want to say out.

Using your completed speech outline as a guide write the whole speech out.

When you print your text out be sure to use a large font so that it is easily read. Double space your lines and number your pages for the same reason.

2. Use cue cards

Make brief summary notes on numbered (cue) cards that will serve as memory prompts to guide you from one idea to the next.

These are very good if you have practiced and know your speech. They let you interact with your audience more freely than reading word for word does. The result is a more spontaneous sounding speech.

Click the link to find out more about preparing and using cue cards.

3. Give your speech from memory

If you have time this could be the option to go for. The advantages are that you speak directly to your audience. Because you are not relying on notes you can use readily use gestures and make eye contact.

Check here for tips and techniques on how to remember a speech.

The disadvantage could be the risk of forgetting what you wanted to say entirely through being overcome by the emotion of the occasion but this is significantly lessened through practice.

Deliver your speech well

Woman waving goodbye

If you'd like to know more about how to deliver your farewell speech well check out these pages:

Manage the nerves 

If you find yourself under attack from a fit of nervous apprehension at the mere thought of giving your goodbye speech look here. Help is a click away.

PS
Please don't use your farewell speech as an opportunity to vent any pent up frustrations you may have, regardless of how tempting it may be. Instead focus on what was undeniably positive and sincerely highlight it.