A simple template for a farewell speech

A number of co-workers in our office are transferring to new opportunities in new regions. We had a luncheon today to say goodbye and make some presentations. I was asked to say goodbye to one of the employees who was leaving.

Combining the fear of public speaking with the emotions of saying goodbye, can create stressful situation for people. To simplify the preparation, I have a simple template that I use to write a farewell speech.

  • Start with the obvious – use an introduction that says thank you for the privilege of representing the other members of the organization in making the presentation, and perhaps why you were chosen to make the presentation.
  • Talk about beginnings – what circumstances brought this person into the company, or what was your first contact with them?
  • Tell about the person – what are the personal characteristic that made a contribution to the organization: were they energetic, optimistic, perky, dependable, quiet, friendly, etc? Talk about the things people are going to miss when they’re gone.
  • Cover the history – what were the accomplishments or achievements during the person’s time with the company? Use stories, quips, memories to highlight what they contributed.
  • Why are they leaving? – if appropriate, touch on the circumstances that are taking them away. Look at the opportunities and challenges and wish them all the best for future success.
  • Present the gift – finish by presenting the gift that will serve as a token of thanks and remembrance.

Note: Not every one of these thoughts are going to be appropriate every time. If the employee is leaving because of corporate reorganization, you’ll probably omit the “why are they leaving” question. If the employee leaving is one of those who create more than their share of office conflict, try and frame your remarks from a personal perspective, rather than giving a false-positive picture of a warm and fuzzy workplace relationship.

Whether you’re saying a short goodbye to a volunteer coach in a youth league or making a major presentation at the retirement of a long-term employee, a farewell speech should bring conclusion and tribute for those leaving and those staying behind. A template like this will help you cover the points you need to consider when saying goodbye.