WORKSHOP: Personal Trainer

I hate making speeches at staff leaving presentations. Any tips?

I know what you mean. Staff leaving parties are one of those rites of passage. As a manager you will find you need to undertake this task from time to time. Sometimes, with a popular member of staff it is easy. At times it is not and it can be a drag.

We all know that rites of passage are important and it is, therefore, our job to ensure that we do them properly. It is not just about showing thanks and respect for the job that has been done, but also about showing others you value the work of your staff. So it is important to do this well.

In doing this, you are representing the good wishes of the organisation.

You must thank and acknowledge the work that has been done at whatever level.

The poet laureate Andrew Motion has recently written a guide to giving eulogies at funerals. He has some interesting tips about what to say.

The word eulogy is taken from the Greek to speak well. I have, therefore, drawn on some of these tips for how to say 'hail and farewell' to a departing colleague. So my top tips for making a leaving speech to 'Jill' are:

- Come straight to the point - don't end up whittering on.

- Keep it short - two or three minutes is quite a sufficient interruption to the drinking.

- Give a brief chronological history of her career and one or a maximum of two highlights of her work.

- How would Jill like to be remembered?

- What made her special? Her particular interests, likes and dislikes.

- What did you like about Jill, what did others like about her?

- If you could only say two things about her, what would they be?

- Don't be too jocular. A witticism, joke, or a quote if you like but don't ham it up.

- Be sincere - you want Jill and her friends to come away feeling valued.

- Finish by wishing Jill well in her new role and then handing over the generous present and card.

In preparing for this it would be worth having a quick word with colleagues who were closest to her and using the above "tips" as a checklist. Be very careful about letting too much of your own personal likes and dislikes into your eulogy.

And finally, whatever you do, don't refer to your leaving talk as a eulogy!

Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO). Send your questions to: stephen.bubb@haynet.com.

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