Farewell is a lonely sound… honing your goodbyes

I’m leaving Insight Vacations for pastures and interests new at the end of August, so I was proud and pleased to be invited to attend both the Insight Vacations and The Travel Corporation (TTC) conferences in London last week.

With Phil Cappelli
Phil Cappelli

On Thursday night, at the kind invitation of Stanley Tollman and with the lyrics of Jimmy Ruffin’s song of loss in my mind, I took the stage for a farewell address at the conference final gala dinner, a spectacular event in Kensington’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

I’m a lucky guy.  I’ve had amazing opportunities, lived all over the world and done some incredible things, but it is the people who matter in a goodbye, so it was my chance to thank all those who have meant so much to me. They are some of the best in the industry. Giants and legends. Pioneers and mentors. Friends and colleagues. Many are still with the business, some have moved on, others are gone. I love and respect them all. I started to list them here but had to trash that idea as there were simply too many for this column and it would be a disrespect to leave anyone out.

with Joanna and Alex
Joanna Duncan & Alex O’Connor

Stanley, always the gentleman, was gracious and kind.  To be recognised in front of my peers was a special moment. He presented me with a lovely watch on behalf of the group and I will treasure it.

Tomorrow I will wake up in my new life, full of yet-to-be realised opportunities. I’m looking forward to it immensely. The future is bright, but that’s not to say it will be the same. It won’t.

As Jimmy Ruffin’s chorus goes:

Oh but, farewell is a lonely sound
When told to someone you love
You know, you hurt inside as you wonder why
You must leave the one that you love.

I will miss my friends and colleagues in the Insight and TTC family and I wish them well.

So, how does one frame a farewell speech?

In my experience it is better to do it off-the-cuff, with just a few key words written on the back of your name-card during the evening.

This is not for everyone but as a regular speaker it certainly works for me. I think it helps the story flow with the mood of the evening and thus more relevant to the people attending. 

Here are some quick delivery tips: 

  • Keep it short but don’t rush. Use the spaces between sentences as pauses for emphasis.
  • Make it human and remember to focus on people, not your own achievements.
  • By all means include a few special moments related to colleagues in the audience, perhaps highlighting their special qualities that mean so much to you
  • If you feel sad about leaving then there’s no harm in telling people. I did. But balance it with a positive view of your future opportunities; no need for details. Remember… no-one loves a Grinch.
  • Stick to my time-honoured rule of public speaking: say only what you planned to say; then shut up and sit down. It works like a charm!

Footnote click: Jimmy Ruffin – Farewell is a lonely sound 


12 thoughts on “Farewell is a lonely sound… honing your goodbyes

  1. Thanks for being such a great leader and mentor John. You got me into cows (purple ones) and I bow at the alter of your entrepreneurial successes. Increasing marketshare by reducing pax – who woulda thunk it?! All the best with future endeavours. A follow from me here on WordPress too. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderfully written. I will always consider TTC as family regardless of where life takes me.
    I was immensely sad to leave also, but feel richer for the opportunity I had and the knowledge I gained. Best wishes for the future! Heidi.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic words of advice as always JB, you have always been a positive influence on my presenting skills over the years.. great to see you last week, thanks for the memories and more to come.

    Liked by 1 person

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