A farewell speech, when given, conveys feelings of sadness and melancholy, but also an intense purposive spirit that the people saying goodbye have as they pursue their newfound lives after leaving some of their loved ones or acquaintances. They may well include colleagues, superiors, long-lasting friends, neighborly acquaintances, classmates, members of an affiliated club or association, or relatives. Farewell addresses are touching by nature, because departure is simply one of the most difficult events that humans have to deal with. With departure comes a void that seems too difficult to replace, because each one is unique and each departure indicates that a person, or a group of persons, who have been significant at some point in our lives, leaves along with their unique selves that seems too hard to surmount.
Therefore, a farewell speech should succeed in conveying the uniqueness that the people who will leave have. Farewell addresses are given for a variety of reasons, like early retirement, career closure, moving to another location (company or residence), end-of-school, or even at a funeral where the farewell is irrevocable. When offered to someone else, the speech, therefore, should be made so as not only to highlight the act of leaving and the best wishes everyone wants to offer, but also to relate how the person or the group of persons bidding goodbye became inextricably linked with the history of their origins. For instance, in a company farewell speech, how did an employee help the company significantly, in its high or low points? In a farewell speech for a friend, what were the best moments shared with that friend? When involved with a graduating batch, how were their times in the college or university and what significant upheavals took place? When with someone who just passed away, what did he do during his whole life that made a profound impact?
Sometimes the person or group leaving will be the one giving the biddings of farewell. In that case, they could highlight the same – the history of the place they’re leaving – but they should focus more on the audience and the times shared together. Suppose an employee will leave and give some farewell remarks. How will he proceed? Of course, he can show how much he’s appreciated the company; he can continue by showing how he has enjoyed his time working with the company in its ups and downs; but he will touch the audience most when he includes how the audience was involved in his travails with the company. How much fun did he have with the audience? What are the most poignant moments where they worked hard and emerged strong, despite all odds against their favor? That may rouse some tears from the audience, and the speech will have made its impact.
The discussions above make it seem that the ideal farewell speech has no templates; templates could only induce an air of artificiality and may hamper free expression emanating from the heart. However, some speeches should preserve formality; in those cases, there are things that, when included, will make the occasion more successful without losing legitimate, genuine emotions. Here they are. For addresses to people who will leave: anecdotes, unique manners of relating with others, lives helped, characterizations, achievements, reasons for leaving, wishes for more successful ventures to come, and all the “We will never forget you’s”. For addresses by people leaving to those whom they will leave: likeable characteristics, special people, emotions, anecdotes, some challenges to fulfill, reasons for leaving, future plans, wishes for everyone, and a tribute to everyone.
A farewell speech, rendered beautifully, could capture a unique past, and the awakening memories of everyone can turn the address into the most tearful scenes a person or an audience could ever have.