Retirement speeches can be tricky, there is no doubt about it. One of our readers, Ted, worked on the railways for 35 years and wanted some tips to write his speech, including some jokes and one liners. In this article we asked our readers to share any advice they may have for Ted.
On the past 35 years
One of the best methods that I have heard in a retirement speech would be to use a line like “What will stand out in my heart and mind as I look back at the past 35 years of working for the railways?”
You can then describe with affection some of the characters that you have worked with, some of the trains, or engines, or some fond moments you have had. I bet there are a few funny stories that you have had over the years.
When I retire in my speech will be a few examples of my catch phrase “it seemed like a good idea at the time” – a number of stories of amusing things that I did, which on reflection were not so clever.
Jokes and one liners
Here are a couple of one liners that you may be able to use:
“I always arrive late at the office, but I make up for it by leaving early.” Charles Lamb.
“When a man retires and time is no longer a matter of urgent importance, his colleagues generally present him with a watch” R C Sherriff.
“Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save” Will Rogers, Autobiography, 1949.
“It is time I stepped aside for a less experienced and less able man” Scott Elledge.
“The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does” Anonymous.
“When one door closes, another one opens, but we often look so long and regretfully at the closed door that we fail to see the one that has opened for us” Alexander Graham Bell.
“Forever, and forever, farewell, Cassius! If we do meet again, why, we shall smile; If not, why then this parting was well made” William Shakespeare.
“Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime
We’ll take the best, forget the rest
And someday we’ll find these are the best of times…” – song “best of times” by Styx.
Answer thanks to Jonty P.
Quotations to include in your speech:
“Few men of action have been able to make a graceful exit at the appropriate time” – Malcolm Muggeridge.
“A man is known by the company that keeps him on after retirement age” – Anon.
“There’s one thing I always wanted to do before I quit…retire!” – Groucho Marx.
“I’ve lit the blue touch paper and found there’s nowhere to retire to.” – Doctor Who.
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin-real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” – Alfred D. Souza.
“Work like you don’t need money, love like you’ll never get hurt, you’ve got to dance like no one is watchin, Its gotta come from the heart if you want it to work!!”-song “Come from the heart” by Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh.
Answer thanks to Ed.
Structuring your speech
It’s funny we work all our lives and in many ways our retirement speech is the last thing we have to do. You would think that we would put a lot of time into what to say. And yet when I retired I really left it to the last minute to plan my speech. One suggestion on the structure is to use a comparison over time.
An introduction joke could be to “The good news is that I’m only going to make one retirement speech, and this is it”.
You could start with “When I started in business…” You could go over how different things were 35 years ago. Things like the typing pool etc.…”
You could then bring it forward in time to how things are today or a step along the way.
A line like “It wasn’t until…” could fit in well. This is used to good effect in a speech by Brendan Wilson.
You could do a skit on how when you started at work all of the common computer words had different meanings (Ram, Mouse, Floppy etc.).
If you wanted to include a part on change you could use a funny line like “And remember – change is inevitable – except from vending machines”.
I have just come across a quote which I have built into a line that could be used as part of a leaving or retirement speech.
“Today reminds me of the time when Governor Swanson of Virginia made a long and rambling speech. Afterwards a woman came up to him to shake his hand. “How did you like my speech?” he asked. She answered, “I liked it fine, but it seems to me that you missed several excellent opportunities.” Swanson was puzzled. “Several excellent opportunities to do what?” “To quit” she replied.
And so today is my time to quit. And I’m sure that there may be some in the audience that may have felt that I have missed some excellent opportunities, but now is my time to retire…”.
Answer thanks to Doctor.
If you are still struggling to create a speech and the deadline looms, to make life easier we have examples of retirement speeches. These can be customised for your own purposes.
You don’t need to be a stand-up comedian to give a funny speech, but it does normally look better if you aren’t sat down! If you have any one liners that you used in your retirement speech, or can think of any off the top of your head, please let us know in the comments box below.