60th Birthday Speech

birthday speechUnless you’re someone whose main currency is TikTok coins, age 60 is hardly considered ‘old’ these days. But a 60th birthday speech is a big deal.

If you’re giving a 60th birthday speech, forget the bag of OAP tricks complete with inflatable walking stick, wrinkle cream and joke Viagra pills. And leave off tired ‘over the hill’ tropes.

Focus on the person, not their age. Times have changed, and far from our sexagenarian years meaning slowing down to a snail’s pace, life is more often fulfilling and fabulous.

That said, marking six decades on this planet is certainly cause for celebration, so don’t let this moment pass by without ceremony. Here’s Speechy’s guide to nailing it…

(*Or check out our bespoke speech service if you’re looking for more than simply advice.

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Well, much like how you’d approach writing any other speech:

  • Gather your content – brainstorm your favourite moments and best stories
  • Find a theme – identify a common thread that connects your content
  • Keep it succinct – stick to 8 minutes max
  • Prove, don’t tell – it’s not enough to say they’re a great person – how is this true?
  • The importance of humour – don’t lift yours off the internet
  • The touching bit – think sentimental, not saccharine

Ok so, much like the last six decades, let’s take it stage by stage…

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The key to giving an authentic, heartfelt speech is to keep it personal. Your audience want to recognise the person you’re talking about, not listen to you reel off platitudes about some generic 60-year-old.

It’s likely you’ve known this person a long time, so you should have plenty of material in your arsenal. Even so, it’s not always easy to come up with the goods on the spot. A bit like when someone asks you to name your favourite song.

If you’re a bit light on substance, you’re going to have to do some digging. Dust off old photo albums and enjoy an afternoon reminiscing, or get in touch with friends and family to ask them about their fondest memories of the person you’re writing about. This should be enough to kickstart your creativity and help you list of gems that deserve to feature in the speech.

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find a theme

The purpose of your speech is to remind guests why the main character is so brilliant. See if you can spot a recurring theme amongst the anecdotes you’ve brought to the surface. This will help thread together your stories and paint a fuller picture of your subject.

It could be that they’ve always unintentionally got themselves into bonkers situations – find an example from childhood/adolescence and something more recent. Or if they’re a retired teacher and you can base your speech on Lessons They’ve Taught you over the years. Then find solid anecdotes that illustrate how they’ve taught you things like patience, kindness, and so on.

Keep the theme in mind throughout and try and tie something relevant into your toast to conclude any motifs you’ve alluded to throughout.

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Keep it succinct

Go over 8 minutes and you risk losing your audience, so you’re going to have to be selective about the content you choose to keep.

Even if you can recall dozens of anecdotes, resist contributing more than a few knockout ones to the speech. That’s enough to craft some strong supporting imagery without interrupting the flow of the narrative and making it sound like you’re simply ticking off dates.

Whatever you choose should serve to back up any claims you’re making about the person you’re paying tribute to, ideally in a comedic way. Keep it punchy and your audience will love you.

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Prove, Don't Tell

They’re the coolest person you know? Ok, but providing evidence will really drive that home. Stuff like… they made cardigans look edgy long before Harry Styles came on the scene, or… they can play a convincing guitar solo of Eruption by Van Halen, even while drunk.

They’re incredibly fun to be around? Give examples, such as the way there is never a dull moment with them on a trip to Lidl middle aisle, or that they once turned a car breakdown into a hilarious adventure.

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the Importance of humour

This is a party, not an episode of This Is Your Life. Keep it as light and entertaining as possible.

Not everyone is a natural crowd pleaser and speaking in public makes most of us nervous. But the beauty of a celebratory speech is that everyone is there to have fun so there’s goodwill from the off.

Break the ice with some humour that establishes your theme. Don’t rely on dodgy jokes off the internet. Chances are at a 60th, there are people in the crowd who’ll recognise them as recycled!

In fact, you don’t have to come up with ‘jokes’ at all per se. Just be as real as possible about the star of your story, while maybe exaggerating some of their more interesting quirks.

Look for inconsistencies in their character. Are they quite serious by nature but they’re happy to be given a glamorous ‘makeover’ when the grandchildren come to visit?

Ask yourself what makes them different and think back to seminal moments or eras of their lives. Consider their fashion choices over the decades – were they a mod or rocker? Did they pull off a mullet in the 80s and are now bemused at today’s generation acting like they invented it?

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And the touching bit...

A warmed-up audience will respond warmly to some well-timed sentiment close to the end of your speech. Most of us accept that some affectionate teasing is the best way to pay tribute to someone you love, but it’s also nice to show your softer side with some genuine praise.

By now, the crowd will be running high on nostalgia, so trade on those good feelings and speak honestly about what you truly admire and appreciate about your person. Maybe you’re truly in awe of their Illustrious career or you’re moved by the years they’ve spent helping others through difficult times.

Make sure your speech adds to all those memories you’ve mentioned that have lasted a lifetime.

How Speechy Can Help You...

speechy with shaiGet in touch if you want to find out more about how we work, the services we offer, and our DELIGHT GUARANTEE. The Speechy team are comedy scriptwriters by trade and romantics at heart.

WhatsApp us, call Heidi on 07971 224 245or email hello@speechy.co.uk 

Or just dive straight into working with us…


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Published by Little, Brown and written by Speechy's  Heidi Ellert-McDermott, this modern speech guide is a must-have for all nearlyweds.


Expert advice on speech planning, writing and
delivery, as well as speech examples written by
the Speechy wordsmiths and advice from
celebrity wedding influencers.


Ditch the Googled gags and cheesy clichés,
and make your speeches a wedding day highlight.


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