How to Write a Memorable Retirement Speech (With Examples)

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Are you in charge of giving the speech for your friend’s retirement party? Congratulations! This means that others are confident in your ability to inform, inspire, and entertain. Take their confidence in your abilities to heart and approach the task with courage.

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You may have never been asked to give a retirement speech before now. It can be hard to know where to start. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Retirement speeches are like any public speaking opportunity.

The process is similar to when you write a Best Man/Maid of Honor speech. Even if you are a practiced public speaker, take some time to prepare. The last thing you want is to get up in front of everyone and realize you don’t know enough about the retiree to honor them properly. 

Here are some steps to follow as you prepare for the retirement gathering.

Tip: Growing older and entering retirement also means watching your friends and family members grow older, too. And that often means coping with loss and grief. If you know a retiree who's facing a loss, our post-loss checklist may be able to help.

Step 1: Gather information

If you are in charge of giving the retirement speech for a long-time employee, take time to gather information about the person. You may need to do some research. Hopefully, you can get the information you’re looking for without turning to the honoree for help.

If you feel like you are missing key details try reaching out to some colleagues. The employees who work with the retiree or the retirees supervisor would be good people to talk to. 

This step is particularly crucial if you don’t have a personal relationship with the employee. Getting one or all these facts incorrect will be embarrassing for you and the honoree.

Try to find out the following:

  • How long the retiree had been in the industry.
  • How long the retiree had worked for the company.
  • The previous positions the person held within the company.
  • The contributions they made while working.
  • Awards the person who is retiring may have received in the course of their career.
  • Pertinent information about the retiree’s work history. You could reference a special project they were involved in, or a big event they organized. 

Also, make sure you know about the personal life of the employee who is retiring. 

  • Know the correct pronunciation of their name.
  • Learn about any nicknames they answer to.
  • Find out the name of the current spouse of the employee.
  • Make sure you know the names of their kids.
  • Find out what you can about personal hobbies, interests, or activities.

One thing worth mentioning. Some people work hard to keep their private life private. If you are having trouble getting information about the retiree despite your best efforts, consider it a warning sign.

That person might not like to share their personal life with their colleagues. If that’s the case, you should work with them to write a speech they are comfortable with. 

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Step 2: Learn the Special Qualities of the Person

Hopefully, you were asked to deliver this speech because you know what makes this person unique. This is not always the case, though, especially if you are the boss of a large group of people. You may need to interview coworkers and family members to get to know the person you are honoring.

Whether you know the person well or not, here are some points to consider.

  • What would everyone say is the most significant character trait about the person?
  • How has this employee made a positive contribution to the work environment?
  • Ask others about significant interactions they may have had with the retiree.

From the answers to these questions and the stories that you hear, you may be able to develop a theme for your speech. 

Step 3: Write an Outline

Yes, your English teacher knew what she was doing when she forced you to write essay outlines. Writing an outline will help your speech have focus. And it will force you to stay on topic. 

There’s no one way to write an outline for a speech, but here is an example.

  1. Introduction - Start with an attention-grabbing story. The retiree should be the feature of the story. And it should paint them in a positive light. 
  2. Point 1 - Share a positive attribute about that person. It can be work-related, or more general. Maybe they’re a great listener.  Or they could have a calming personality that is useful in a hectic environment. Give a specific example of a time this attribute was useful in the office.
  3. Point 2 - Talk about the significance of the retiree’s work. If they have been part of the company for a long time you should have plenty of examples. You don’t need to go into details about all the projects they worked on. But listing some of the more involved or important projects can highlight what they did for the organization. 
  4. Point 3 - Talk about the most poignant and important attribute of the person. Try to come up with an example of this attribute. A short story about a time they used this attribute would work well here. 
  5. Thank the employee for their contribution to the office. Make sure you wish the person well in their retirement. You could include a quote about retirement during this part of your speech. You can find some great quotes for this occasion in a retirement magazine

Step 4: Write Out the Speech (optional)

If you are a skilled and practiced orator, you may only need to refer to your outline when giving the speech. Otherwise, take the time to write out the text of the address.

Remember, when you are giving a speech to honor another person, you shouldn’t use the word “I” very often. This will make the listeners feel as if you are talking about yourself. The emphasis shouldn’t be you. It should be the person you are honoring. 

Step 5: Get Feedback

It’s always a good idea to get feedback from someone before giving the speech to a large audience of people. It would be especially prudent to have someone who knows the retiree well listen to the speech. 

Getting feedback from someone else can help you streamline your speech. And it will keep you from putting your foot in your mouth.

If you’re close friends with the retiree, you will know which topics to avoid and which ones to highlight. But even if you know the person well, letting someone else hear the speech is a good idea. They can help you finalize your speech so you’re ready to share it. 

Step 6: Record a Video of Your Speech Before You Give It

Have you ever seen a photo of yourself when you didn’t know the picture was being taken? Was your brow creased? Was a frown on your face?

If you are an unpracticed speech giver, it’s good to practice your speech a few times. Practicing it and recording the run-through can help you polish your presentation.

You may watch the video and learn you have some mannerisms you didn’t know about. But once you know, you can remind yourself to avoid them. That way the audience can focus on your words, rather than the big crease between your eyebrows.

Short Retirement Speech Examples

Here are some snippets of retirement speeches that you can amend for your situation. Remember, it is important to speak from the heart. Your audience will appreciate a more authentic speech rather than a stoic message.

For a friend

When Max began work at our firm, gas was $1.19 a gallon, and Ronald Reagan had just been elected president. Kramer vs. Kramer won Best Picture, and “Call Me” by Blondie was playing on the radio. All that to say, she’s been a fixture here for quite a while. To say that Max knows every aspect of this business like the back of her hand is not an understatement.

I remember the first time I walked into this office. Maxine was the first person to greet me. She gave me advice on where to park, showed me how to fill out a PTO request, and answered all my questions during lunch. She introduced me to everyone on staff.  And she made sure I knew all the ins and outs of working for Brighton Industries. This wasn’t part of her job, but she did it anyway. She made every new person in the office feel welcomed.

Every office has a “go-to” person. The person who knows how to handle the difficult client. The person who knows how to hire the right person for the job. The person who knows how to load new toner in the printer. Max has been our go-to person for 25 years, and she leaves big shoes to fill.

One of Max’s best qualities is her ability to stay calm in the middle of the storm. Do you remember the great Jones Company fiasco in 2004? While the rest of us panicked about the loss of our biggest client, she went out and found us a new client. And that client brought in twice as much revenue as the client we lost!

We know that Maxine is looking forward to retirement. She told me she is planning to spend more time quilting. And she’ll be hanging out with her daughter and three adorable grandbabies. You’ve all seen pictures of her grandkids, right? Of course you have! We are all so excited to wish Maxine well as she starts checking off items from her retirement bucket list

For your retirement

Thank you so much for all the kind words. I have loved working at Brighton Industries. I have had some of the best times in my life at this office. I have made lifelong friends who I treasure. Thank you for being the best coworkers and friends a woman could ask for.

There are a few things that I won’t miss about working for Brighton. I won’t miss filling out the TPS reports. I won’t miss the late nights that came with tax season. I won’t miss how cold the office is in the summer, or how hot the office is during the winter. But I will miss all of you. You have made this office feel like a second home to me. Thank you.

I discovered what amazing coworkers I had when I lost my mom to cancer three years ago. You all stepped in so willingly to pick up the slack when I couldn’t perform my regular duties. Not only did you take on more responsibilities in the office, but many of you also provided meals to my family. It meant the world to me, knowing that I could depend upon you all for help.

Express Your Appreciation

As you say goodbye to a faithful employee or coworker, you may consider writing a thank you note to the retiree. This would be a nice way to express appreciation. It may mean more than a gold watch or plant ever could.

Everyone wants to feel appreciated. We all want to think that the hours we gave to a company was time well spent. For many people, their jobs are more than just a way to put money in the bank. It’s their identity and source of pride. Take time to write a speech that recognizes this commitment. It’ll take longer, but it is worth the time. 

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