How to write a tribute/retirement speech

by Susan

The 'how to write a tribute/retirement speech' question below came via my contact form. I'm entering it here to show you the types of questions I get asked and the answers I give. I hope it encourages you to use the form. That way so many more people get helped! To maintain the privacy of the person who sent the question I've used XXX in place of personal names.

Good day!

I'm really enjoying and learning from your website.

I am trying to write both an email and a speech/tribute to all of the Staff as it is responsiblity of the Supervisor to do so when a member of staff is leaving the organisation.
XXX will be leaving us on Nov 19th 2009. She celebrates her birthday on the 19th and celebrated 33 years with us on the 1st of November.

I really need some assistance. Can you help me?
Thanks for your kind invitation.


Trinidad and Tobago

My answer:


Thank you for your contact.
What a stable happy staff you must have - 33 years of service is a wonderful testimony.

Is the email to cover the same material as the speech? If it is it can be easily adapted from what you write to verbally deliver.

Try focussing on the speech first.
Decide the outline you want it to follow that will give you a map to guide your way through.

It could be:-

1. Welcome to audience & XXX
2. Celebration of her qualities and her birthday- what you know of her and value
3. Her successes
4. Changes over the time she's been in the business
5. Funny stories or sayings - quotes from colleagues
6. What she's going off to do now
7. Best wishes for the future - how you'll miss her
8.Closing remarks - gift giving etc.

Now go through adding the information to each segment. You'll more than likely have too much but that's OK you can edit leaving in the strongest ideas.
Once you have a rough idea of the flow of material look at refining it, that's vocab, quotes, speech length, opening and close. Rewrite and rehearse. Don't be afraid to try it out front of a couple of staff members for their feedback. They'll probably enjoy being involved in the process.

I'm sure once you gone through that exercise, the email will almost write itself. There are retirement quotations on my site as well as a speech example. You'll find the link to it on the quote page.

If you have the time one way to make this very special would be to have the text of your speech especially printed on fine paper and signed by you to present to her at the end. That way she can refer to your words of appreciation again and again.

I hope this helps, Go well. I'm sure you'll make her very proud and happy.
Kind regards,

PS. Remember people love stories - stories about themselves and others they know. Tell them.

And very soon after sending that came this:


Thanks so much for you quick and informative feedback. I will certainly revisit your website and use your suggestions.

It will surely help. Thanks again.

Best regards,

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