How to Write the Best Retirement Speech

by Sarah De Winne

To write a retirement speech for a retirement party is more complicated than it looks. I have done this exercise a few times now.  To ensure I was successful in this new task, I did a lot of research to get the best result.

To help you, I will explain the step-by-step process of writing a speech for a retirement party and give you some examples to make your task easier.


Key Points to Consider When Writing the Best Retirement Speech

First the purpose of the speech is to celebrate the big change signified by retirement.  However, it may not be a celebration for everyone.  The retiree may be worried about reaching this milestone.  If you want to know more about this big step, you can read our article about How to Enjoy Every Moment of Retirement Life.

The retirement speech will express all the personal or professional feelings you have for the person.  Perhaps you were colleagues or friends for many years and he or she spent a lot of time by your side.  The speech will also be different depending on your relationship with the retiree.

Key-Points-to-Consider-When-Writing-the-Best-Retirement-Speech-for-a Retirement-Party
Key-Points-to-Consider-When-Writing-the-Best-Retirement-Speech-for-a Retirement-Party

By that, I mean that the speech will be less formal if you are a friend or relative than if you are a colleague.  The basic principles will stay the same, but the tone of retirement speech will vary.

In general, the key elements of a retirement speech are an appreciation of the inspiration, guidance, support, leadership and kindness of the person.

To make your speech easy to write, you need to divide it into sections.  To start, write down all the headlines of the retirement speech.  Essentially, you are making a plan of your speech.  Afterwards, you just need to develop each heading.  This technique is valuable for any kind of writing.  Always start with a plan or brainstorming and it will save you time and stress in the long run!

To help you, I will cover each of these areas step-by-step:

Step 1 – Brainstorming to Write a Retirement Speech for a Retirement Party

Brainstorming for Retirement Speech
Brainstorming for Retirement Speech

This stage is particularly important if you want to succeed at writing a successful retirement speech.  Brainstorming will help you generate ideas and information.  You need to spend some time finding and reading retirement speech ideas.

Below are some starting points.  However, the most important thing is to not copy a speech completely but write from your heart.  Sincerity is best, and you cannot go wrong when you are sincere.

To Write a Successful Retirement Speech You Need to Grab and Hold the Audience’s Attention


There is no point in writing a book if nobody reads it.  It is the same with a speech.  You want people to listen you.

To make this happen, there are a few techniques to grab the attention of your audience and keep them with you.  If you are making a speech for a colleague in front of a whole department, this can mean a lot of people.  Unfortunately for you, there will be many people who do not know the person as well as you.  For this reason, they have less interest in listening to you.

So, How to Grab the Audience’s Attention?

To grab your audience’s attention, the best technique is to surprise them.  You need to wake-up them up.  For this, the first thing which comes to my mind is an alarm clock.  So, make the alarm clock ring and say something like: “John, this is the last time you will hear this song!”


Alternatively, if you have a screen at the office, why not use it to display a picture of the person in a funny situation.  You can start by saying: “We are all going to miss your professionality.”  You get the idea.  You are basically telling the audience: “Wake-up! I am speaking.”

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How to Keep your Audience’s Attention

To keep the attention of your audience, you need keep them guessing.  You achieve this by drip feeding information without revealing your main point too soon.

For example, I once bought a toy crane and gave it to my colleague at the retirement party as my speech started.  I told him: “I have a present for you!  Do you remember the crane?” By giving the toy, you immediately create interest in the audience.  Some in the room know why but most of them do not know and want to know more.

Another efficient method is a story. If you incorporate a story inside your retirement speech, it will have the same effect as the present.  Some people will know the story very well and they will already be laughing.  The others will be very attentive because they want to be part of the laughter.


You can also involve the audience by making them participate.  For this, you need to prepare some questions in advance involving someone who is connected to the retired person.  By doing this, you create an exchange between you and your audience. Tip: Make sure the person will be present at the retirement party.

Headlines of a Retirement Speech

Now you have mastered the technique to grab and keep the audience’s attention, we can move on to planning the headlines of the speech.  These headlines are not fixed and may need to be rewritten depending on the situation.

First, let us remember the key elements of a retirement speech:

  • Appreciation
  • Inspiration
  • Guidance
  • Support
  • Leadership
  • Kindness

The headlines will form the main points of your retirement speech.  Under each of them, you need to write a small paragraph.  You may not use all of your ideas.  However, by writing something for each, you may remember other interesting things to include.

To make this task easier, write your reply to these questions:

Why do we respect and appreciate him/her? (Appreciation/Kindness)

John was always reliable and had a good word to say about everyone. We all recognise, respect and appreciate John’s contribution to the company. 

Why do we always listen to him/her? (Inspiration)

John has a lot of knowledge which he was willing to share.  We learnt a lot from him.

Why do we trust him/her when we have a problem? (Guidance / Leadership)

John has accumulated a lot of experience during his 20 years with us.  His experience helped us to solve problems, to make decisions and guide us in the right direction.

Why are we not afraid to ask for his/her help? (Support)

Whatever your needs, John is always there to help and support us.  He always finds the right words.  He would probably write a better speech.

The brainstorming of ideas is the most important part of writing a retirement speech and also the hardest.  However, once you have your headlines, you just need to develop them.

How to Organise a Retirement Speech?


There are three different parts to a retirement speech:

  • The Opening
  • The Main Body
  • The Conclusion

What to Put in the Opening Part of a Retirement Speech?

The most important part of the opening of a retirement speech is to hook your audience (see above)!  Next, you need to clearly state the purpose of the event.  This part does not need to be long, but you need to make sure you connect with the audience.

(Put the alarm clock on the table and make it ring.) “John this is the last time you will hear this song; you can now wake-up when you wish (laughs).  I am honoured, and it is a privilege for me to speak on behalf of all the team. Today, we are here to celebrate John’s retirement.  It is a new chapter for him but for us we need to close this chapter. John it will be different here without you.”

After that, you can make a small presentation about the person leaving.

What to Put in the Main Body of a Retirement Speech?

This section is where you talk about all your headlines and state how the newly retired person influenced the life of the company.  You can also prepare a list of all the accomplishments/awards he/she received during their career.

Try to avoid too many technical terms to ensure that everybody can easily understand your retirement speech.  Short and simple sentences is the key.  Don’t forget to use the techniques discussed above to keep the attention of your audience.

“John used these incredible skills to bring this company where it is now. He was more than an excellent leader; he was the Captain of our boat. We knew we could trust his expertise to face any kind of situation we faced in the past. I bought this crane for you (give him crane toy).  Do you remember…”

What to Put in the Conclusion of a Retirement Speech?

In the conclusion part of your retirement speech, you should summarise the strongest points in the main body of your speech.  Then, give thanks on behalf of the whole team.  You need to thank all the guests for coming to the retirement party as well as those who were involved in planning the event.

“John will be extremely hard to replace.  We worked together for many years and I had the opportunity to learn so much from him.  John showed us the path to success….”

Resources to Further Improve Your Retirement Speech

It is a good idea to add quotes in your retirement speech.  Depending on the quote chosen, they can add humour and reflection.  If you want some ideas, read our post which includes a list of the Best Quotes for Retirement Party.

When writing any a speech, it is easy to get writer’s block.  Below are some synonyms of common emotions which will kick start your writing and add variety.

List of Words to Express Joy:

Love, loveable, to love, falling in love, Joy, joyful, to enjoy, Tender, tenderness, Devotion, devoted, to devote, Nurturing, to nurture, Bliss, blissful, Seduction, seductive, to seduce, To cherish, Luck, lucky, Ecstatic, Triumph, triumphant, Glorious, Jubilant

List of Words to Express Trust:

Trustworthy, Reliable, reliability, Faith, faithful, Admiration, to admire, Proven, Guaranteed, Scientific, science, Research-backed, Facts, factual, Absolutely, Authoritative, authority, Saint, Fool-proof, sure-fire

List of Words to Express Surprise:

Awe, Jaw-dropping, Mind-blowing, Mesmerizing, Spectacular, Remarkable, Enchantment, enchanting, to enchant, Astonishing, Terrific, Breath-taking, Spellbinding, To beguile, To bewitch

List of Words to Express Sadness:

Tearful, Heartbroken, Grief-stricken, Weepy, Teary-eyed, Sobbing, to sob, Troubled, trouble, Lovesick, Austerity, Hostile, Resentful, Envy, envious, Shame

Examples of Retirement Speech for a Retirement Party

Examples-of-Retirement-Speech-for-a Retirement-Party
Examples-of-Retirement-Speech-for-a Retirement-Party

“I am honoured and it is a great privilege for me to be chosen to give this speech.  John, we have worked together for the last ten years and I know you very well.  We spend plenty of time together, but do you remember this picture? (Show old picture to the audience.)

Don’t laugh, it is you!  I am sure that your name is on the back.  You have not change too much since the time this taken. Maybe you have a little less hair!  Today, we are here to celebrate John’s retirement.  This is a new chapter for him but for us we need to close a chapter. John it will be different here without you.

I would like to thank you for being here for me when I needed you.  I t’s been a privilege to work with you.  During his 25 years in the company, John has built a reputation of trust in his work. John has mastered all the qualities to succeed in his role within this company. When we don’t know the answer to something, we always say, “Let me ask John.”  You always have the answer. Unfortunately, for us it is time for us to find these answers on our own.  Please leave your email address just in case!

John has spent more than two decades leading and inspiring us.  Some of you have known John for years like me but others just for months. Whatever the time you have known him, you know his capacity to solve problems and to deal with any kind of issues.

John, do you remember when we had that problem at the factory? For those of you who were not here at this time, I will tell you a little bit more. Our factory had a problem with a conveyor, and it needed to be repaired as soon as possible. So, we decided to go there and fix it.  We left in the morning and came back the next morning.

John told his wife he was with me at the factory to repair the conveyor, but he forgot to tell her that we were still working! So, around midnight, I received a phone call from her to see if everything was OK.  She probably thought he was out enjoying himself at the pub with me!

This goes to show that John was always dedicated to life at the office and he helped raise the company to the level it is now.

Some of you may remember when this company was in difficulty 8 years ago. John’s expertise and professional skills led us to take the right decisions at the right time to save us. This created new hope in the company and inspired all of us to work harder.

I am so delighted, and sad at the same time, to be part of John’s retirement party tonight. We are losing a team player, an enthusiast, a kind person.  I know I can speak on behalf of all of us and say that working alongside you made my life easier at work. Thank you for all your support and creativity whilst working at this company.

On behalf of all the team, I will thank you again John.  I would also like to thank all the people who made this event possible.”

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