Saying farewell to family members friends, or valued colleagues is always bittersweet, but the key to writing a successful farewell speech is to show your appreciation for people you are saying goodbye to and to leave them feeling optimistic that you will meet again.
Structuring your speech
Farewell speeches being naturally informal, there are no golden rules, but you can follow a basic time-honoured structure by beginning with a funny anecdote to break the ice and devoting the main body of your speech to thanking people for their support and recalling the good times you had together. Make a note of memorable events and comical recollections before you begin writing your speech. Your conclusion, as well as being an opportunity to wish your audience well, might also incorporate a quote from a poem, a song, or even a prayer, if you are saying farewell to close family members and friends.
A funny, well-chosen anecdote, or two, at the beginning of your speech brings it to life and helps diffuse the sadness of saying goodbye. Remember you aren’t at a wedding though, and avoid recollections that might embarrass or irritate those involved. Anecdotes work well in farewell speeches because, with their focus on shared memories, they honour the bonds you forged with the people who played such an important part in your life. Get your pen to work on those quirky and unusual anecdotes, such as the lazy Friday afternoon your and your colleagues spent photocopying one another’s feet!
Saying thank you
Thanking the people who have supported and encouraged you is a prerequisite for a farewell speech, but it’s the personal touches that make your goodbyes moving and memorable. This is the time to give an honourable mention to the colleague you provided a steady supply of chocolate when you were struggling to meet a deadline, the boss who was so supportive when a family member was sick, or the friend or family member for all the times she picked you up from the airport and made you see the funny side of life when you were feeling down.
Farewell speeches naturally conclude in wishing everyone future happiness and success, and telling them how much you will miss them. This is potentially tricky, because you want to strike a balance between expressing your feelings and departing on an upbeat note. The key is to keep it simple and sincere. You could saying something like: “I’m going to miss you all very much, but remember than I’m never more than a phone call away.” It’s also customary to end farewell speeches with a prescient quote from a poem or book, or you might borrow from the author Richard Bach's comforting words: “Can miles truly separate you from friends … If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?”