Leaving Speech – Dos and Don’ts

Many of us are scared stiff by the idea of speaking in public. And when the subject is ourselves, we’re doubly petrified.

That’s the situation we find ourselves in at the leaving presentation, of course. This is something that comes to us all in the end.

But if you follow a few simple pointers, it needn’t fill you with terror.

First, keep it brief. Nobody expects you to talk for twenty minutes: three to five minutes would be more like the right length.

Second, keep it informal. Although there might be a little sadness, especially if you’ve been with the company for many years and have lots of friends, the occasion is basically about wishing you well and celebrating your achievements. You’ll probably have just listened to a brief address by your boss in which he or she paid tribute to your good qualities – but also mentioned an amusing memory or two. You could do the same about your colleagues, as long as your story is funny and inclusive.

Third, talk about some memory, something that brings a smile to everyone’s face.

Fourth, say how much you’ve enjoyed being part of the team, working on shared projects, experiencing the camaraderie.

Fifth, say a little about your future plans, what you’ll be doing.

Sixth, thank everyone for the present and tell them how much you’ll miss them.

Those are all good things to do. Now here are a few things you definitely shouldn’t do.

Don’t waffle, ramble or drift off the point into some interminable and boring story that no one wants to hear. The key word is punchy (not punch-drunk).

Don’t criticise the company or anyone there; even if your boss makes Attila the Hun look compassionate and caring, now is not the time to mention it. In fact, there is probably never a time for that, because you might need a reference from that very place. You might even want to use the services of your old company in your new role elsewhere. Not burning your boats is always good advice (even on dry land).

Don’t brag. Even if you’ve landed a dream job, earning in a month what you used to work a year for, keep it to yourself. There’s something to be said for downplaying your prospects rather than beefing them up.

If you stick to these suggestions, your leaving speech should be enjoyable for all concerned. And one last word of advice: rehearse it before you actually give it. Practice may not make perfect, but it does eliminate horrible bloopers.

By David Vickery