How to Write an Inspiring Farewell Speech: Step-By-Step

Updated

Cake values integrity and transparency. We follow a strict editorial process to provide you with the best content possible. We also may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more in our affiliate disclosure.

There are many times in our lives when we have to say goodbye to the people we care about. We may retire or switch jobs. We may move away or graduate. We may even die. If you’re leaving a place or situation, you may be asked to give a farewell speech.

Jump ahead to these sections:

This can be nerve-wracking for people who aren’t experienced in writing speeches or speaking in public. You may be tempted to just read a farewell poem and call it a day. But even a novice writer can craft an inspiring farewell speech.

Here, we’ll break down how to write one step-by-step and also provide examples of farewell speeches from several different occasions.  

Step 1: Determine Your Audience

Knowing who you’re speaking to will determine the tone of your speech. If you’re giving a retirement speech or saying goodbye to a co-worker, you’ll want to be slightly more formal. It’s definitely not the right place to engage in risqué humor.

If you’re a valedictorian speaking to their classmates, strive for an uplifting and inspirational tone. If you’re eulogizing yourself at a living funeral, you can be more irreverent than you might be eulogizing someone else. Give thought to the appropriate tone for the occasion and go on from there. 

Step 2: Figure Out What You Want to Say

Even professional writers and public speakers can’t just whip up a speech in one draft. Before you start writing, take some time to jot down some ideas.

Are there particular stories you want to share about your time with the people you’re speaking to? Make a note of them. Are there specific anecdotes about coworkers or friends you want to revisit? Write those down, too. Once you’ve narrowed down what you want to say, you’ll find it a lot easier to begin writing.

Step 3: Make an Outline

Once you’ve figured out what you want to say, it’s time to write up an outline. A speech should include the following components:

  • Introduction: This will set the tone for the rest of your speech. A good introduction will grab people’s attention and keep it on you. A good introduction will include a greeting to the audience. It may also contain an icebreaker like a joke to loosen up the crowd. Finally, it will let people know the purpose of the speech.
  • Body: This is the meat of your speech. In the body, you can delve into the stories and anecdotes you wrote down in your brainstorming session. You will likely be talking about a few different events, so make sure to include transitions between events.
  • Conclusion: Finally, you’ll need to wrap up your speech. Most conclusions will summarize things you’ve already covered. For a farewell speech, you may want to end on a poignant note, even if the rest of your speech has been fairly lighthearted. This lends it emotional resonance. 

Step 4: Be Personal

You may want to make your speech feel perfect and polished. The problem with that is that a perfectly polished speech can end up feeling a little generic.

It’s important to infuse your speech with personal and specific stories. This will help your audience feel more connected to what you’re saying. 

Step 5: Don’t Speak for Too Long

Once you’ve completed your speech, it’s time to edit it down. People may start to tune you out if you go on for too long. Even if your introduction is attention-grabbing, it won’t keep people engaged indefinitely. Five minutes is an appropriate length for more casual speeches. For a more formal farewell speech, you could speak for up to ten minutes. This might apply to a valedictorian speech at graduation or a retirement dinner for an important company figure. 

Ultimately, you need to use your best judgment. Read your speech out loud, being sure to speak slowly and clearly enough to be understood. Factor in pauses for laughter during humorous moments. If your speech is too long, then go through and trim out any unnecessary parts. This will ensure your speech is as strong and memorable as possible.

Step 6: Practice Makes Perfect

You may think that once your speech is written, you’re all done. But there’s still one more important step. You need to be comfortable delivering your speech. This means practicing it as many times as it takes.

A lot of people will rush through speeches if they feel nervous or uncomfortable in front of a crowd. Practicing it at the correct speed will help ensure you don’t speak too fast on the actual day of a farewell event. It’s almost like muscle memory. As you practice, you can even note spots where you need to breathe or take a sip of water. Being prepared for little things like that can make you feel more confident.

Practicing can also help you memorize your speech. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to go up without cards or notes. Even the most well-prepared person can have a forgetful moment. Without notes, you may panic and go completely blank.

Keep your speech in front of you so you’re able to quickly pick up where you left off. Just don’t rely on your notes too heavily, either. You want to connect through the audience by making eye contact. Practicing and preparing can help you strike the right balance.  

Sample Farewell Speeches

Now that we’ve broken down the steps that go into writing a farewell speech, we’ll share some examples. You can see how to say goodbye to coworkers through a touching retirement speech. You can see how people say goodbye when graduating or moving away.

You can even see how someone eulogizes themselves at a living funeral. Read on for excerpts from all of these kinds of farewell speeches:

Example for saying goodbye at work or retirement

“Over the past twenty years, I’ve seen this company grow from five people to over five hundred. But even though the office has changed significantly over the years, some things remain the same. We are truly like a family here. We’re just a much larger family than we used to be. 

But just because I’m retiring, it doesn’t mean I don’t still care about every one of you. A family doesn’t stop being a family just because someone moves away. Anytime you need to talk, I’m just a phone call away.” 

Example for saying farewell at the end of someone’s life

“I’ve attended an unfortunately large number of funerals in the past several years. This is the first time I’ve ever attended my own, though. 

I decided to have a living funeral after burying so many of my other friends who also had terminal illnesses. I thought it was a real shame that they didn’t get to hear their friends and family members celebrate them. Perhaps selfishly, I want to hear all of you talk about how awesome I am.

But more than that, I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate you, too. If you’re here, it’s because I can never fully express how much your support has meant to me while I’ve battled this illness. You’ve all helped me in so many ways. You’ve driven me to treatments. You’ve organized meal trains to feed my family. You’ve cleaned my house. You’ve taken care of my kids. You’ve told me jokes and let me vent. You’ve laughed with me and cried with me. You’ve been there for me in so many ways.

As you all know, we’ve hit a point where treatment isn’t doing anything to help anymore. I’ve gone ahead and discontinued it because it’s making me feel terrible and not actually doing anything. I’d rather go out peacefully and say goodbye on my own terms. And what better way to do that than throw myself a funeral party? So everyone please enjoy some food and music. And don’t forget to come over and tell me how great I am, because I do want to hear it.” 

Example for students or teachers

“Over the past four years, our class has been through a lot together. We’ve had ups and downs, but no matter what, we’ve always come through it closer than ever. Maybe it’s because we’re such a small school. While we might not all be the closest of friends, we don’t have the same cliques you might find at other schools. That might also be because many of us have been in school together since kindergarten. In a lot of ways, we’ve always been like a team. 

Now that we’re all going off to college, many of us will be on our own for the first time. It’s bound to be an enormous challenge for some. But I have faith in every single one of us. We’re graduating from a highly-competitive college prep school. Everything we’ve been through has prepared us for this.

We may be small fish going into a big pond. But we’re some of the smartest and toughest small fish you’re going to find. And ultimately, even if we end up scattered across the country, I know I’ll always be able to count on you. And I hope you know you can always reach out to me, too.”

Example for someone who’s moving away

“Moving away from friends isn’t exactly new for me. With a wife in the military, I end up having to pack up every few years to move. I know you all know what that experience is like. But this is definitely the hardest time I’ve ever had packing up to go.

You don’t always encounter a lot of other civilian husbands living on base. It’s been incredible having a built-in support system with other dads and husbands who understand what this life is like. I’m really going to miss having our families all get together for cookouts on the weekends.”  

Writing an Inspiring and Memorable Farewell Speech: Tips, Tricks, and Examples 

When you’re leaving people behind, it’s hard to know how to say goodbye. You may worry that you won’t be able to properly express what the people in your life have meant to you.

Just follow the steps above and remember to speak from your heart. At the end of the day, that’s what will have the most impact.  

And if you're interested in unique ways to continue someone's legacy after their passing, you can consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.

Categories:

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.