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How to Make a Farewell Speech

Last Updated: December 30, 2022 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Patrick Muñoz . Patrick is an internationally recognized Voice & Speech Coach, focusing on public speaking, vocal power, accent and dialects, accent reduction, voiceover, acting and speech therapy. He has worked with clients such as Penelope Cruz, Eva Longoria, and Roselyn Sanchez. He was voted LA's Favorite Voice and Dialect Coach by BACKSTAGE, is the voice and speech coach for Disney and Turner Classic Movies, and is a member of Voice and Speech Trainers Association. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 80% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 250,943 times.

Writing a farewell speech can seem like a daunting task. It can be hard to find the right words for your last day, whether it's your graduation, retirement, or any other occasion. You want to try to sum up your experiences, thank everyone involved, and offer wishes for the future, and do it all with grace and charm. This is a difficult task, but with some careful thought, you can write the perfect farewell speech.

Writing Your Speech

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Choosing What to Say

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Delivering Your Speech

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About This Article

Patrick Muñoz

Before you make your farewell speech, write an outline to organize your thoughts. Open with a joke or funny anecdote to grab the audience’s attention. The body of your speech should summarize your time there and include specific stories to express your feelings about the people and place. Conclude your speech with a quote or a punchline, depending on if you want to leave on a serious or funny note. Then, once your speech is written, practice so it will flow easily. For tips on how to give your speech confidently, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Jefferson Davis' Farewell Address

Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol, January 21, 1861

I rise, Mr. President [John C. Breckinridge], for the purpose of announcing to the Senate that I have satisfactory evidence that the State of Mississippi, by a solemn ordinance of her people in convention assembled, has declared her separation from the United States. Under these circumstances, of course my functions are terminated here. It has seemed to me proper, however, that I should appear in the Senate to announce that fact to my associates, and I will say but very little more. The occasion does not invite me to go into argument; and my physical condition would not permit me to do so if it were otherwise; and yet it seems to become me to say something on the part of the State I here represent, on an occasion so solemn as this.

It is known to Senators who have served with me here, that I have for many years advocated, as an essential attribute of State sovereignty, the right of a State to secede from the Union. Therefore, if I had not believed there was justifiable cause; if I had thought that Mississippi was acting without sufficient provocation, or without an existing necessity, I should still, under my theory of the Government, because of my allegiance to the State of which I am a citizen, have been bound by her action. I, however, may be permitted to say that I do think she has justifiable cause, and I approve of her act. I conferred with her people before that act was taken, counseled them then that if the state of things which they apprehended should exist when the convention met, they should take the action which they have now adopted.

I hope none who hear me will confound this expression of mine with the advocacy of the right of a State to remain in the Union, and to disregard its constitutional obligations by the nullification of the law. Such is not my theory. Nullification and secession, so often confounded, are indeed antagonistic principles. Nullification is a remedy which it is sought to apply within the Union, and against the agent of the States. It is only to be justified when the agent has violated his constitutional obligation, and a State, assuming to judge for itself, denies the right of the agent thus to act, and appeals to the other States of the Union for a decision; but when the States themselves, and when the people of the States, have so acted as to convince us that they will not regard our constitutional rights, then, and then for the first time, arises the doctrine of secession in its practical application.

A great man who now reposes with his fathers, and who has been often arraigned for a want of fealty to the Union, advocated the doctrine of nullification, because it preserved the Union. It was because of his deep-seated attachment to the Union, his determination to find some remedy for existing ills short of a severance of the ties which bound South Carolina to the other States, that Mr. [John C.] Calhoun advocated the doctrine of nullification, which he proclaimed to be peaceful, to be within the limits of State power, not to disturb the Union, but only to be a means of bringing the agent before the tribunal of the States for their judgment.

Secession belongs to a different class of remedies. It is to be justified upon the basis that the States are sovereign. There was a time when none denied it. I hope the time may come again, when a better comprehension of the theory of our Government, and the inalienable rights of the people of the States, will prevent any one from denying that each State is a sovereign, and thus may reclaim the grants which it has made to any agent whomsoever.

I therefore say I concur in the action of the people of Mississippi, believing it to be necessary and proper, and should have been bound by their action if my belief had been otherwise; and this brings me to the important point which I wish on this last occasion to present to the Senate. It is by this confounding of nullification and secession that the name of a great man, whose ashes now mingle with his mother earth, has been invoked to justify coercion against a seceded State. The phrase "to execute the laws," was an expression which General Jackson applied to the case of a State refusing to obey the laws while yet a member of the Union. That is not the case which is now presented. The laws are to be executed over the United States, and upon the people of the United States. They have no relation to any foreign country. It is a perversion of terms, at least it is a great misapprehension of the case, which cites that expression for application to a State which has withdrawn from the Union. You may make war on a foreign State. If it be the purpose of gentlemen, they may make war against a State which has withdrawn from the Union; but there are no laws of the United States to be executed within the limits of a seceded State. A State finding herself in the condition in which Mississippi has judged she is, in which her safety requires that she should provide for the maintenance of her rights out of the Union, surrenders all the benefits, (and they are known to be many,) deprives herself of the advantages, (they are known to be great,) severs all the ties of affection, (and they are close and enduring,) which have bound her to the Union; and thus divesting herself of every benefit, taking upon herself every burden, she claims to be exempt from any power to execute the laws of the United States within her limits.

I well remember an occasion when Massachusetts was arraigned before the bar of the Senate, and when then the doctrine of coercion was rife and to be applied against her because of the rescue of a fugitive slave in Boston. My opinion then was the same that it is now. Not in a spirit of egotism, but to show that I am not influenced in my opinion because the case is my own, I refer to that time and that occasion as containing the opinion which I then entertained, and on which my present conduct is based. I then said, if Massachusetts, following her through a stated line of conduct, chooses to take the last step which separates her from the Union, it is her right to go, and I will neither vote one dollar nor one man to coerce her back; but will say to her, God speed, in memory of the kind associations which once existed between her and the other States.

It has been a conviction of pressing necessity, it has been a belief that we are to be deprived in the Union of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us, which has brought Mississippi into her present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races. That Declaration of Independence is to be construed by the circumstances and purposes for which it was made. The communities were declaring their independence; the people of those communities were asserting that no man was born--to use the language of Mr. Jefferson--booted and spurred to ride over the rest of mankind; that men were created equal--meaning the men of the political community; that there was no divine right to rule; that no man inherited the right to govern; that there were no classes by which power and place descended to families, but that all stations were equally within the grasp of each member of the body-politic. These were the great principles they announced; these were the purposes for which they made their declaration; these were the ends to which their enunciation was directed. They have no reference to the slave; else, how happened it that among the items of arraignment made against George III was that he endeavored to do just what the North has been endeavoring of late to do--to stir up insurrection among our slaves? Had the Declaration announced that the negroes were free and equal, how was the Prince to be arraigned for stirring up insurrection among them? And how was this to be enumerated among the high crimes which caused the colonies to sever their connection with the mother country? When our Constitution was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable, for there we find provision made for that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men--not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only to be represented in the numerical proportion of three fifths.

Then, Senators, we recur to the compact which binds us together; we recur to the principles upon which our Government was founded; and when you deny them, and when you deny to us the right to withdraw from a Government which thus perverted threatens to be destructive of our rights, we but tread in the path of our fathers when we proclaim our independence, and take the hazard. This is done not in hostility to others, not to injure any section of the country, not even for our own pecuniary benefit; but from the high and solemn motive of defending and protecting the rights we inherited, and which it is our sacred duty to transmit unshorn to our children.

I find in myself, perhaps, a type of the general feeling of my constituents towards yours. I am sure I feel no hostility to you, Senators from the North. I am sure there is not one of you, whatever sharp discussion there may have been between us, to whom I cannot now say, in the presence of my God, I wish you well; and such, I am sure, is the feeling of the people whom I represent towards those whom you represent. I therefore feel that I but express their desire when I say I hope, and they hope, for peaceful relations with you, though we must part. They may be mutually beneficial to us in the future, as they have been in the past, if you so will it. The reverse may bring disaster on every portion of the country; and if you will have it thus, we will invoke the God of our fathers, who delivered them from the power of the lion, to protect us from the ravages of the bear; and thus, putting our trust in God and in our own firm hearts and strong arms, we will vindicate the right as best we may.

In the course of my service here, associated at different times with a great variety of Senators, I see now around me some with whom I have served long; there have been points of collision; but whatever of offense there has been to me, I leave here; I carry with me no hostile remembrance. Whatever offense I have given which has not been redressed, or for which satisfaction has not been demanded, I have, Senators, in this hour of our parting, to offer you my apology for any pain which, in heat of discussion, I have inflicted. I go hence unencumbered of the remembrance of any injury received, and having discharged the duty of making the only reparation in my power for any injury offered.

Mr. President, and Senators, having made the announcement which the occasion seemed to me to require, it only remains to me to bid you a final adieu.

From The Papers of Jefferson Davis , Volume 7, pp. 18-23. Transcribed from the Congressional Globe , 36th Congress, 2d Session, p. 487.

How to Reach Us

The Papers of Jefferson Davis Rice University--MS 215 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, Texas 77251-1892

Phone and Fax Numbers Phone: (713) 348-2586 Fax: (713) 348-6172 

Email Address E-mail:  [email protected]

How to write a memorial, and other types of farewell speeches

By:  Susan Dugdale  | Last modified: 08-04-2021

Finding the right words to say goodbye

Does your mind go blank when you want to farewell someone you care about?

If so, you are not alone. Despite knowing endings are inevitable, that we are going to have to say goodbye many times over the course of our lives, we often struggle to find the words we want to express our thoughts and feelings.

Instead we 'um' and 'ah'. Or reach for a handy catch-all cliché to cover the awkwardness of not knowing what else to say, like telling a dear friend, whose partner has recently died, 'Time heals all wounds'. (Please, don't.) 

Or sometimes we say nothing, even though we want to speak; sidestepping our feelings of inadequacy by avoiding, both the people and, the situations that might provoke them.

Most of us want do better. And we'd like to be shown how.

Guidelines for eulogies, farewell & retirement speeches

If that's you, you're in the right place. That's exactly the purpose of this site. 

wordsforgoodbye.com offers guidelines, and examples of speeches, to help you mark a significant ending, a life changing event, with a speech honoring the occasion, and the people at its center.  

Look around. Take your time. You'll find what you need to help you prepare the words to say goodbye the way you want to. You can begin now by clicking on the label of your choice below.

Image: a label with a background of soft blue forget-me-not flowers. Text: words for eulogies, tributes, remembrances, memorials or funeral speeches.

Hello. Goodbye. 

Hellos and goodbyes are inseparable.  Lock stepped: like pepper and salt, king and queen, right and left. A pair. 

Where there are beginnings, there will also be endings. That's an inescapable, universal truth: a fact of living.

And, what we think, feel, or do, about them won't stop them. That's another fact. Those beginnings and endings are going to keep right on happening.

Because, everything is cyclic.  Day follows night, always. Birth is followed by death. Winter follows Autumn, which follows Summer, which follows Spring ...

Round, and round, and round. 

Life's only real certainty is change. Nothing is static. 

Quote: To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (King James)

The importance of good goodbyes

When the endings in our lives are major we often feel the need to mark them meaningfully. A common way of doing that is with a gathering and a speech.

On the death of someone close to you, someone who has been a major presence in your life, the words you pull together to say goodbye at the funeral, is called a eulogy, a tribute and sometimes, a memorial speech.

When a much respected work colleague leaves to take up another position, a farewell speech from a senior staff member to mark the occasion may be in order. Or perhaps, if you are the person leaving, you want to give a goodbye speech to the people you've worked alongside.

Retirement is another transition often marked by a speech, either from the retiree, or from a representative of the organization the person is leaving.  

Goodbyes like these are important. We remember them, and the words we heard. Hence, wordsforgoodbye.com because we want to say goodbye as sincerely, and as graciously, as we can.

I hope you find what you need.

Kind regards, 

How to write a memorial tribute or eulogy

Sample eulogy - two memorial speech examples.

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How to Give a Farewell Speech

June 14, 2019 by Nitin Maheta

Preparing a farewell speech can be really daunting and emotional at the very same time. People find it difficult to summarise their experience into correct words, whether it’s your graduation, retirement, or any other special occasion. It is very important, to sum up, your entire experiences into something valuable so that everyone could remember it.

Giving a speech is a great way to say thank you to everyone who was involved in making your time enjoyable and memorable. This is a difficult task, however, anybody could write a well-formulated farewell speech like a pro by following the steps mentioned below.


Touch on a serious or heartfelt point

Include well-wishes, recite the speech to yourself, dress up well and ready, speak with confidence.

So, when you think about writing a great farewell speech, the most important thing that you should keep in mind is that you have to mention each and every detail of your experience that made your entire time in this place a memorable one. Think about the overall memories that you have collected in the place that you are leaving. This place could be a job, a school, a place where you have lived for a long time or any other club, an organisation that you have joined. Summarising will help you to move ahead smoothly and effectively in your speech writing.

You can also start by narrating a story of your time at this place, you can also include some of the difficult moments that you’ve faced. Include all the happy moments and also mention the people that made it beautiful. Summarising all these points on a piece of paper will let you use them while writing down your final speech.

You can conveniently keep your farewell speech impactful by reflecting certain memories and lessons that you have gained through your time at this place and what you’ll miss. Being reflective will make people feel special. It will also assist in collecting some appreciations for sharing your feelings about the occasion. You can mention some moments that you are grateful for and even the lessons that helped you to become more productive in life.

Mention all the happy moments and also the people that made it worth cherishing forever. Jot down the reasons that make you sad about going. This might include something like,” I learnt so much from each and every person here; I feel sad to leave this place.” Including emotional notes will make your speech upbeat and memorable to each and everyone in the room.

Recommended for you: 30 Inspirational and Funny Farewell Quotes

So, others are staying even though you’re making your farewell speech. Don’t forget to include well wishes for all your friends, colleagues and in fact all the people that have gathered to give you a farewell. You can make your speech excellent by adding certain jokes but always remember that you don’t include any mean spirited comments or statements. You can either offer wishes for your entire group or team that have worked with you for all the time, or you can also offer individual good wishes, to the people who stretched their helping hands at the time of despair.

Adding this portion of appreciation and thankfulness in your farewell speech will make all the others feel respected and will give them the satisfaction that their efforts were recognised. You can also add the state of hopes and wishes you have for yourself and the estimations that you carry about the next phase of your life. This will further make your speech more attractive.

Writing is only one aspect of the entire procedure of formulating a farewell speech. You are required to practice it out loud so that you can rectify the errors that you have made while preparing the entire speech. The way you write and what you write might not actually roll off the tongue easily. Go for the parts that seem confusing or that you cannot bring into flow easily. Make any important notes if required; however, don’t entirely depend upon these notes while delivering your final speech.

While reciting a speech to yourself, you come to know the exact time duration of your speech. Giving a speech standing in front of a mirror will help you understand how you can actually speak without stumbling or looking into the important notes. You can also ask your friend to give you feedback about a speech in order to make it better and flawless.

While delivering a speech, your entire focus should be over the audience and the content that you have written. Thus, be prepared with your speech and don’t forget to dress up your best at the event of your farewell. Dressing up your best will give you enough confidence to stand in front of the thousand people and give your 100%. So, get into your favourite formals if it is an office farewell or get into the party attire if it is a college or school farewell party.

The main thing is to look your best and be your best when you hit the stage. Be ready with all the special notes that you prepared so that you don’t hesitate while giving your final speech. Don’t write your content over the palms of your hands as it looks messy and too unprofessional.

Recommended posts for you: How to Introduce Yourself

How tone of voice affects communication

How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Often, while giving a speech on a stage, people tend to get nervous in front of a crowd. There are a number of tricks that might help you to battle against your stage fear and come up with the best farewell speech. Make sure that you practice as many times as you can so that you can gain more and more confidence before the final day. Practising will make you even better for standing in front of a group even for your future.

However, always remember that you might make mistakes but be conscious enough to make amendments at the very moment. Even if you forget certain lines don’t panic, acknowledge it and move on. You can also decide to laugh at yourself, this will put you and the audience at ease. Enjoy your final moments to the fullest in the place you’re leaving.

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About Nitin Maheta

Nitin Maheta is editor in chief and webmaster of MakingDifferent Blog. You may reach him out on following social media:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Guideline for writing a farewell speech

By elizabeth burns / in family.

A successful farewell speech soothes the heartbreak of saying goodbye.

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.

Saying goodbye

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?”


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