We have all suffered through the rambling, unstructured, endlessly boring leaving speech, or the one where humour falls flat on its face. Dermot Carey, professional MC and Past President of the Dublin Toastmasters Club gives some tips on how to avoid the most common pitfalls and make sure your final performance is a lasting professional and positive image of you.
Your leaving the job and there is an expectation from your boss and colleagues that you will deliver a leaving speech. You may have a lot or very little that you want to say but both can send the wrong message.
Ireland is a very small market place and you never know when or where your paths might cross again with current colleagues in your future employment. Don’t burn your bridges.
When it comes to the leaving speech there are 3 types of speakers:
The “I’m too shy” type:
Perhaps the thought of giving a speech is terrifying and the “I’m just too shy and it would just be easier if I opted out” option is just too tempting. But consider this – what message are you sending by not giving a speech? It may be interpreted that you didn’t enjoy your time at the company, that there are underlying issues and you would rather not say anything, or as the song goes “you say it best when you say nothing at all”. Is that the impression you want to give? Deliver that speech and follow the steps below.
The “I want to get it off my chest” type:
Perhaps you relish the thought of delivering that speech, you have issues that you would like to mention and there are people that irritated you in your time at the company and your overriding thought is “I want my moment”. Do not succumb to this petty impulse. If you have issues, mention them in a diplomatic way at the exit interview. If an exit interview is not the norm at your company then ask for a meeting with the appropriate person before you leave. They just might be appreciative of your feedback. Ireland is a very small market place and you never know when or where your paths might cross again with current colleagues in your future employment. Don’t burn your bridges.
The “I’m a professional” type:
This is the category that everyone should be in. You are a professional and you need to be professional. Think about your long-term future career and deliver that speech. Your professionalism should be your colleagues lasting impression of you.
Self – deprecating humour or remembering funning incidences is fine but do not use humour to put someone down as this doesn’t just affect the person it is aimed at: you will lose the goodwill of your audience.
The key to a polished performance is preparation. Here are a few tips to help.
Structure & Content:
No matter what speech or presentation you are making, structure is one of the fundamentals of a good speech. It might sound obvious but every speech should have an opening, body and a conclusion. We have all heard the rambling, unstructured, and endlessly boring speech. You don’t want your speech to be one of those.
Opening: Aim for a good opening perhaps by using some self-deprecating humour.
Body: In the body of the speech talk about what positive knowledge and skills you have gained from working in the company.
Thanking people: Thank your team leader or supervisor, your team colleagues and other colleagues that have helped you. If you are naming individuals jot down the names so as not to mistakenly leave anyone off the list.
Conclusion: Wish everyone the best for the future and sum up what you enjoyed about the place with a general thank you to everyone on sign off.
Quantity: A long speech will lose people. A rule of thumb is that a 5 minute speech should be about 600 words.
Humour: Using humour can be fraught with danger. Self – deprecating humour or remembering funning incidences is fine but do not use humour to put someone down as this doesn’t just affect the person it is aimed at but you will lose the goodwill of your audience.
Language: Mind your language. If you wouldn’t use a word in front of your Granny then it has no place in your speech. The words you use are a reflection of you.
A lasting impression: Make your final performance a lasting professional and positive image of you.
- Nerves: In my opinion, most people fear public speaking because they remember back to their childhood where friends or class mates laughed at them when they made a mistake reading something aloud in class. They remember how that made them feel. You are an adult and your audience are adults and they want you to succeed. If you make a mistake pause, gather your thoughts and resume.
The best way to tackle those nerves is:
– Good preparation. Write your speech in full and in a print that you can read easily.
– Good rehearsal. Rehearse 1 hour for every 100 words in your speech. It may sound a lot but it is worth it.
– Pause. Do not rush through your speech. Take your time and pause.
– If you feel confident enough not to carry the full script of your speech, write bullet points on numbered index cards as they are easier to manage than an A4 page that has been crumpled in your pocket for hours. Project your voice. You need to be heard. Practice in front of a full length mirror at home.
Best of luck with your speech. You’ll be great.
Dermot Carey DTM, is a Past President of Dublin Toastmasters Club and a Dublin Toastmaster for 15 years.
You can find more information on his MC service for Corporate Events and Weddings at www.DermotCareyMC.ie