Your last day of work and you're wondering what to say as a leaving work speech? Wondering if you can get away with slipping out the door quietly? Don't worry, read on to find out how to get ready and what to say for that memorable leaving speech.
1. RELAX!! DEEP BREATHS!! GET SOME PERSPECTIVE!! YOU ARE ONLY SAYING GOODBYE!!
They often say that public speaking is someone's most feared event, coming second only to dying. That might sound ridiculous...that public speaking should be even close to dying in terms of fears but there's no doubt that having to give a leaving speech can be nerve racking. Even if you're the biggest extrovert on normal days around the office. But just remember this key point - TODAY IS YOUR LAST DAY...YOU ARE OUTTA THERE!! So, even if your speech totally sucks (and it won't suck if you read the rest of this article), you won't have to face these guys again.
And honestly, do you remember the leaving speeches of your former colleagues? Chances are that your abiding memories of past colleagues (good or bad) are not from their last day. As long as you don't make a fool of yourself and you keep your last work day speech short, sweet and sincere, you'll be fine. Sure, you might think that you want to create a great last impression, and fill it with leaving speech jokes, but you don't have to.
2. GO AROUND AND SAY SOME INDIVIDUAL GOODBYES FIRST
Get "warmed up" by going around the office and give some individual leaving messages. Bring a camera with you as an ice-breaker and take photos. Or bring along an autograph or message book so everyone can sign it. Even better - bring a polaroid instant camera so you can take a picture with your soon-to-be-ex colleague and they can stick it into your autograph book and write a message along side it. This will help build up goodwill so that when it comes time for your speech, everyone will already be on your side.
3. PRACTISE THE NIGHT BEFORE
It's a good idea to write a few key notes the night before and practise them by saying them out loud a few times. Try and do this the night before so it can sit in your brain over night. That always helps you memorize them. There's a big difference between saying it in your head and saying it out loud so make sure you say it loudly and clearly. On your last day in the office, feel free to have some bullet point notes available - there's no harm in that. Even the biggest Oscar winners have notes and no one goes on about that afterwards, do they? So notes are perfectly ok, but try to memorize as it will sound more sincere and you will avoid the tendency to keep your head buried in your piece of paper.
4. WHEN IT COMES TO LEAVING SPEECHES: SHORT IS SWEET
Five minutes is good, but 3 minutes is ever better when it comes to leaving speeches. The shorter, the better.
5. STUCK FOR WHAT TO SAY? WHAT ABOUT THESE THINGS
You could talk about:
- the best things that you got (learnt or experienced) from your job here
- your fondest memories of the place
- your wish for the company
- your mixed feelings about leaving (don't gloat, talk about how sad you are to leave everyone but at the same time you are looking forward to your new opportunity)
6. NEVER TRY TO SCORE POINTS OR ACT SMUG
You might have a lot of pent-up resentment towards certain people, maybe your boss or that idiot from finance. But your leaving day speech is NEVER, EVER a time to settle personal scores or give out ANY gripes (that's right...ZERO GRIPES). Be gracious about everyone and everything about your company. After all, you never know who you might meet in your future paths in life.
7. AND DON'T MENTION YOUR OWN INDISCRETIONS OR REGRETTABLE ACTIONS NO MATTER HOW FUNNY THEY MIGHT BE
When all is said and done, you have to remember that this is work after all, not a fun house. So, even though it might be funny to bring up old stories about yourself, don't do it, if the memories might be negative or unprofessional in anyway. "Hey - remember when I barfed up in front of the Regional Marketing Head - fun times, eh?!". NO. "Hey - bye Stan I'll never forget the times you covered up for me when I actually had a hangover - nice one, mate!". Errr....NO. "Guess you're not going to missing my quarterly reports with all the spelling mistakes, right?!". Errrr....that's NO again.
8. ALWAYS RAVE ABOUT YOUR LEAVING GIFT
Even if it's the most ugly, cheap nasty throwaway gift you've ever seen. If you have nothing nice to say about it, say something generic like "I just want to say, thank you so much for my leaving gift. It's going to take pride of place in my new desk - and every time I look at it, I'll think of you all and my happy memories here, the friendships I made and the laughter and good times we had together".
9. AND GIVE YOUR FAREWELL SPEECH AN ENDING
Sometimes, the most awkward part can be the ending. You should make it clear that your ending. If you are having drinks, the easiest thing is a toast - "And finally, let's toast...to ABC Company, and good health and happiness to all". If you want to do a funny toast try some of these:
"Never forget what is worth remembering, or remember what is best forgotten"
"May your heart be light and happy, may your smile be big and wide, and may your pockets always have a coin or two inside"
If you don't have a drink in our hand, you could end with something like this:
"And finally, a round of applause please for everyone at ABC Company - good health and happiness to you all and thank you again very much".