What Should You Say in Goodbye Speeches?

Goodbye and farewell speeches come in all sorts and sizes. There are multiple sub-categories here, and each one of those will require a few simple twists and turns to help make sure that your goodbye speeches are powerful, poignant and touching. Whether you’re the one leaving and saying farewell, or you’re wishing a good friend or co-worker farewell, or even if you’re delivering a eulogy, goodbye speeches can be quite emotional and may require a little more care in the crafting.

What Kind of Goodbye Is It?

Before you can really begin to craft your goodbye speech, it’s important that you identify what kind of goodbye you’ll be giving. Is a boss or colleague retiring? Is a neighbor or friend moving away? Are you changing companies and the one saying goodbye? Is your company dissolving leaving everyone to go their own separate ways? Is it a graduation speech, where you wish your friends farewell and good luck as you get ready to embark upon your bright new future? Or will you be tearfully saying goodbye to a close friend or relative who’s passed away?

As you can see, while all of these situations will involve goodbye speeches, each of them will need to be treated with unique care and planning. A eulogy is quite a bit different than a graduation speech. And the speech given by someone leaving is going to vary from one given to someone who’s moving on. However, there are some similarities to be found between them all.

Common Ground in Goodbye Speeches…

Regardless of the degree of emotion displayed or felt, any kind of goodbye can be hard, emotional and/or uncomfortable. It’s hard to deliver a speech of any kind if you’re choked up or weeping – and that’s to be expected. Saying goodbye is never easy, and there’s a good chance that your listeners are feeling a bit of emotion themselves. It’s important to be prepared for powerful sadness or sobbing from yourself or audience members, so that if you’re swept by a wave of strong emotion it doesn’t catch you by surprise.

Saying goodbye in any way, shape, or form also usually includes plenty of opportunities to share special memories that can make people smile or laugh. Laughter is a natural stress reliever, and at times of sorrow, high expectation or grief, laughter really can be the best medicine. Share quotes, jokes, anecdotes about the person leaving (or if you’re leaving, about the people you’re leaving behind.) Use this time to share the good times. That’s one of the most important elements of all goodbye speeches.

Coming Up With Content for Memorable Goodbye Speeches…

No good speech is complete without a few quotes, anecdotes, interesting facts or personal stories. The same thing applies to goodbye speeches. There are plenty of places on the web that you can find quotes, jokes and anecdotes from famous people (or just talented people with great quotes!) that can be tied into the central theme of your message. However, regardless of the number of impersonal quotes or anecdotes you sprinkle into your speech, you’ll never be able to deliver a memorable goodbye speech if you aren’t able to somehow personalize your message to the person leaving or being left.

This means that you’ve got to know the person or people being honored AND you’ve got to know your audience. It’s a pretty tall order, but it’s certainly not impossible. If you are delivered the task of speaking in honor of someone that you don’t know too terribly well (at least not on a personal level) this is the perfect time to go to his or her friends, relatives and co-workers for some insider help and information. Not only will this enable you to write a great goodbye speech, it will also help you better know and understand the person who’ll be moving on to new or greener pastures.

What If You’re The One Leaving?

Sometimes, goodbye speeches mean that you have to stand in front of the audience and bid them farewell. This can be especially hard if you’re retiring or moving away from lifetime friends, relatives or co-workers. However, there are some set guidelines that you can keep in mind as you create your speech to help give it structure and flow, and answer the questions and concerns that those who’ll be left behind may share.

If you’re the one who’s leaving, you might want to keep these five simple steps in mind, and craft your goodbye speeches accordingly…


  1. Officially announce to everyone that you’re leaving. If there’s been any doubt or rumors (and believe me, the chances are high that there has been!), this is your chance to confirm any suspicions and elaborate on future plans or what’s coming next.
  2. Take the time to express thanks and gratitude to all of those who’ve supported you and will not move on with you to your new position, home, life or school.
  3. Include a few fond memories you’ve shared with the audience, and try to get them to at least crack a smile.
  4. Offer some final thoughts on friendship, hard work, moving on, etc.
  5. Close with a powerful quote or proverb (but not a cliché!) that really seems to speak to you about this particular situation.


Saying so long is never easy, and saying it in front of a crowd may seem impossible. But with a little planning and a few walks down memory lane, you can share your memories, your good times, lessons learned, and stories that have been shared with you with everyone around you. For parting truly is a sweet kind of sorrow.