20 Expert Tips To Give The Best Retirement Speech

Are you’re looking for tips on how to give the best retirement speech? You’ve come to the right place. Retiring is a huge milestone in anyone’s life. And giving an amazing speech is a great way to kick off retirement.

As a general rule, the key to giving the best retirement speech is all about making your speech memorable for your audience. It’s about creating the right delivery. People will remember how you made them feel. Knowing your goal and audience, engaging with your audience, having great content, and using personal and memorable stories all add to making the best retirement speech that people will remember.

In this article, I will give you 20 tips on how to give the best retirement speech. These tips will help anyone out who wants to give a great retirement speech. Whether you are retiring and want to give a speech or if you’re going to give a speech to celebrate someone’s else retirement.

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1. Know The Goal Of Your Retirement Speech

The goal of a great speech is not to say some words but is for your audience to walk away with having had something inside chance so that they behave differently. So think about what the goal is of your speech before you start writing. Do you want to engage, entertain, or celebrate your audience? Once you know your goal, it’s easier to start writing your speech and create content.

When you find it difficult to give a speech to a larger public, these tips are very useful. But you might also want to learn more about the art of storytelling. There is a great online class available on Masterclass given by Neil Gaiman, a renowned writer. Known for his famous novels like Stardust, and Caroline.

2. Have Great Content For Your Retirement Speech

The key to an amazing retirement speech is great content. So after you set your goal, you can think about key points, stories, and things you want to tell that align with that goal. How to deliver your speech tips comes later in this article. First, you want to have a concept of what you want to say and write that down.

Key Points You Can Use In Your Retirement Speech:

  • How you started your career vs. now
  • Who helped you in your career
  • Lessons you have learned
  • Opportunities you’re grateful for
  • Accomplishments and successes you’re proud off
  • What are you going to miss
  • What are you looking forward to in the future
  • Memories you cherish
  • (Funny) stories and anecdotes
  • Thanking people

Key Points You Can Use When Giving A Speech To A Retiree:

  • Memories you cherish
  • Their contributions
  • Lessons you have learned from them
  • Acknowledge their successes
  • What you’re going to miss about them
  • What you wish for them in the future
  • (Funny) stories and anecdotes
  • Congratulate them

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3. Know The Room Where You Give The Retirement Speech

You have to know the room if you want to deliver the best retirement speech. And that means you need to know where you are giving this speech. At work? At a retirement party? Or somewhere else.

The tone and content of your speech can differ when it comes to different environments. So think about the place you’re giving the speech while writing the content. Some jokes work at a retirement party at home but are not appropriate at the office. You’re going to have success in every room if your retirement speech is positive, upbeat, and thankful/ grateful and at no expense of someone else.

4. Know Your Audience To Whom You Give Your Retirement Speech

Your audience is the judge of your retirement speech. If you can’t connect with your audience, you’re not giving a good enough speech. So know who your audience is and look for references in your speech everyone can relate to.

Is your audience all co-workers? Then there probably are also co-workers around in their 20s and 30s that have a hard time relating to someone who’s retiring. So include references to the workplace they can also relate to.

Is your audience the retiree? Then your goal is to celebrate them, so after finish speaking, you want them to feel appreciated. You can strive for a balance of humor, sincerity, and respect in your speech.

5. Capture The Audiences Attention At The Start

You have about 10 seconds to capture your audience’s attention and captivate them before they tune off completely. That’s a general rule when it comes to public speaking. So for that, you must do something interesting at the start of your speech.

Many people use a joke or a question to start. But you can also use a prop. It helps to capture people’s attention if you use a physical object that is strange for that environment. If people do not understand what you’re doing, you’ve got people’s attention. And great timing helps as well.

Think about a physical object that is maybe strange at first but is something you can refer to at the beginning of your speech and maybe can come back to at the end. Or use a great joke that you know everyone in the audience can enjoy.

Another thing to remember is that most speeches will start in the same boring way. For example: Hi I am Kirsten Veldman, and more about Me, Me and Me. The audience is already bored. This simple trick will grab their attention right away: start with something NOT about you but with something interesting and valuable for the audience.

6. Interact With Your Audience During Your Retirement Speech

Another great tool to hold people’s attention is to interact with them within the first minute of your speech. If you want them to listen, you must get them to respond to you, so they engage with what you are saying. Engaging your audience is what makes a speech memorable and therefore, successful.

You want your audience moving and speaking to you, and you can achieve that by asking a question or ask to show hands. And using humor is a great way to get the audience engaged. As I said, you can use a prop or ask a (provocative) question to let them respond to you. Do something people don’t expect, and they are hooked for the rest of your speech.

7. Make Use Of Stories And Anecdotes

The attention of an audience tunes off completely when they hear dry material, statistics, or a lengthy summary (of a whole career). The human brain doesn’t process that easily.

But our brain turns on when it comes to hearing individual or personal stories we can relate to. So if you want to move people emotionally, you need to tell stories. And moving or funny stories is what keeps the audience engaged with your speech.

You probably can think of a lot of different stories and anecdotes that everyone will enjoy. But the key to a great retirement speech is to tell one or maximum of two stories and go all out with that. Make sure you pick the right story. Don’t tell an embarrassing story that a retiree or someone else gets uncomfortable with. Pick a story or anecdote everyone can laugh at.

8. Use The Right Body Language To Deliver Your Message

You need to move your body to help to deliver your speech. Energy is everything, so if you give energy to the audience, they will give it back to you. So get away from the stand or lectern to perform and use body language that reinforces the content of your speech.

If you tell a story with more characters, it helps to embody these characters to deliver the story. Make it vivid and real and use the present tense, so people connect with you.

9. Keep It Short

Great speeches are short speeches. The sweet spot of a speech, in general, is between 5 – 7 minutes. And don’t make it longer than 10 minutes. Again keeping your audience’s attention is crucial, so keep it short and sharp. Keep in mind: “It’s best to leave your audience before it leaves you”.

When you feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to say. Keep it short, sweet, and simple. Below is an example of a retiring policeman who said just the right and sincere words to say goodbye to his coworkers.

10. End Your Retirement Speech With A “Mic Drop”

After captivating their attention with humor and stories, the audience is wide open to anything you want to drop on them.

What a very popular thing to do is to come full circle. And end your speech by coming back with the prop or metaphor you used in the beginning. The best delivery is when nobody is expecting it. So if you used a prop at the beginning, you bring it back (out of nowhere for them) at the end to make a point. And that’s where you drop the mic 😉

11. Practice Makes “Perfect”

Again you don’t want to be perfect, but you want to be confident in giving your speech. And to get more confidence, you have to practice. You can do that by practice giving the speech in the mirror so you’re getting confident with what you’re saying and you can watch your physical delivery. Or you can ask an (independent) person to listen to your speech so you can adjust specific areas.

12. Don’t Apologize During Your Retirement Speech

The audience wants you to succeed. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t apologize for it. Nobody has heard your speech, so they also don’t know if you’re making a mistake or not. Just roll with it, be confident, and have fun with it.

13. Don’t Memorize Your Speech Word For Word

Remembering your whole speech word for word is not important. Nobody has heard your speech yet, and nobody cares if you mess up the words. It evens makes it more human and authentic.

Again it’s all about the delivery and not about being word perfect. So you don’t have to memorize the whole speech. You need to memorize only the outlines of your retirement speech. And by only knowing the most relevant keywords you can give your speech with enough confidence and not sound like a robot.

Memorizing is all about visualization and association. So you create a mental picture in your mind and link it to the next thing you want to remember in your speech. To do that you have to divide your speech into 5 – 8 sections and create a mental picture for each section that represents the key point.

After that, you can visualize the room where you give the speech and visualize each mental picture into certain places around the room. Let’s say the introduction image is at the front row in the middle, and then you go clockwise to other areas within the room.

If you don’t like this way of memorizing you can put key points on index cards that you can have with you during your speech.

14. Don’t Ramble

If you speak disorganizedly, it’s tough to follow for the audience. So, organize and concise your speech, so it’s clear to you and the audience what you want to say.

15. Avoid Making Bad Eye Contact

Don’t stare over people’s heads or stare at the ceiling or ground. You want to connect with your audience so for that you have to make eye contact. It can feel awkward to look people straight into the eyes, but engaging your audience is making eye contact. You can use the general public speaking rule of One thought, one look. So after you have made your sentence, you can move onto the next person. And don’t be to hang up on this, so it becomes creepy. Just keep this in the back of your head and remind yourself while giving your speech or practice it a bit.

16. Have Organized Notes

If you put too many details on your index cards, you’re going to be locked into your notes during your speech. You will be reading up your speech instead of giving your speech naturally. And this way you lose your connection with the audience. So keep your notes clean and simple.

17. Don’t Fidget

Try to not fidget with your hands or feet while you give your speech. Don’t pace back and forth aimlessly because you’re nervous. Or click with a pen all the time. This will distract the audience from your content. So keep a straight and confident posture and use body language that enforces and emphasizes the content of your speech.

18. Have A Bright Voice

When you give your retirement speech, you don’t want to talk too soft or use a lot of um’s in it. You want to use a confident and loud voice and create pauses within your speech so you can deliver what you want to say in the clearest way possible.

Aim for the people back in the room when it comes to volume. And when you pause silently without using fillers, you’ll create space for the audience to take in and emphasize what you just said. Some of the strongest speeches are the speeches where the timing of the pauses are timed right and are long enough.

19. Mention Your Achievements

The best retirement speech is also a way to look back at your career and tell about the achievements you and your colleagues reached over the years. 

It’s important that you only highlight a few memorable things because if you highlight all the things you’ve done your retirement speech will be too long. Express your gratitude for working together with your coworkers and about everything you’ve learned over the past years. 

20. Include A Memorable Quote

So, let’s end this list with something similar to how we started it. It’s important to keep in mind that people probably don’t remember all the things you said, but more how you made them feel during your retirement speech. 

When you include a memorable quote in your retirement speech, people will easily remember how you made them feel. It’s the perfect opportunity to create a unique ending of your speech, say your quote, and finish with a ‘mic drop’.

Recommended Articles

I truly hope you can create the best retirement speech by following these tips.

The following articles might be helpful for you to read as well:

Related Questions

What is a good retirement gift? A good retirement gift is a gift that matches the plans and dreams of the retiree in retirement. For example: if the retiree is going traveling in retirement than a travel gift is a good retirement gift. If the retiree has a particular hobby, you can give a gift that is related to that hobby. The more personal, the better the retirement gift.

Read more: Top 15 Personalized Retirement Gifts

What do you say to a retiree? An example of what to say to a retiree is Congratulations on your retirement. I wish you a long, healthy, and happy retirement. Enjoy this journey of your life, cherish every moment, and have fun! As a co-worker you can add: You will be missed at the office! Or It won’t be the same here without you! And as a friend or family member, you can add: I can’t wait to spend more time with you!

Read more: What To Say Instead Of Happy Retirement? 95 Alternatives

What to do after retiring? There are many things you can do after retiring. Here are the most popular things to do in retirement: volunteer work, travel, get a (new) hobby, get a (part-time) job, learn a language, join a club, take up a sport, become a mentor, start a business.

Read more: What To Do When You’re Retired? 65 Ideas

Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 200+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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