Retirement Toast

It is a privilege to be asked to give a retirement toast, a special kind of address, presented to honor a co-worker. The occasion involves sentiment and ritual.

Different from speech

A toast is different from a retirement speech. It may be quite brief, less than a minute, incorporating one or two sentences. It is the highlight of a retirement party and involves raising a glass to honor the retiree, with sincere sentiments and retirement wishes for the future. 

A typical toast will bestow best wishes as well as hopes for health, happiness, and good fortune. The words may be serious, witty, or sentimental and should never inadvertently cause embarrassment.

Humor can give your toast interest and sparkle, but you should feel under no compulsion to use jokes. Don’t try it if you are not confident of your ability to use it well.

Tips when preparing a toast:

  • A toast should have a beginning, middle and end.
  • It should be personalised through stories, anecdotes or quotes.
  • The tone and language must fit the occasion.
  • Be sincere. But don’t do a whitewash!
  • Don’t embarrass anyone.
  • Time-maximum two to three minutes.

Toasting Etiquette:

  • Stand and look about the room until you have everyone’s attention
  • Gently tap a glass to indicate the toast is about to begin
  • Say, “I wish to propose a toast to...”
  • Give the toast, as everyone lifts their glasses, making eye contact with the guests and finish by looking at the retiree
  • The retiree remains seated and does not drink with the others
  • After the toast the retiree briefly thanks the attendees in a modest and dignified manner.


(I wish to acknowledge my membership of Toastmasters International, and my participation in their advanced communications programs as the source of some of the tips and techniques outlined above.) 

Visit Quotes to Live By for a wide range of quotes for a variety of life situations.

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