Turning seventy doesn’t mean getting old. It means levelling up! The birthday boy or girl might enjoy a gardening show or two but they’re just as likely to be making the most of that free travel card.
So if you’re giving a 70th birthday speech, forget the decrepit old sack of crass OAP jokes about bladders, false teeth & knowing Jesus personally. The only thing ‘over the hill’ are those tired old tropes.
With such a scope of time, achievements, and time-embellished stories, it’s important to focus on the person and not just the age.
Speechy have worked with people worldwide who want to remind their loved one just how much they mean to those around them and pay tribute to all they’ve accomplished, not to mention how much more there is still to come. Here’s what you need to know about writing a memorable birthday speech…
HOW TO WRITE A WITTY & HEARTFELT 70TH BIRTHDAY
Well, much as you’d approach writing any other speech:
- Brainstorm – go back over old memories for all the content you’ll ever need
- Connect your stories with a theme – find a common motif to link anecdotes together
- Don’t go on and on – you never need more than 8 minutes
- Back up your claims – don’t just say your loved one is fabulous, explain how!
- Have a laugh – humour is the best way to show affection
- The sweet spot – a little love bomb goes a long way after making people cry-laugh
Let’s explore these stages in more detail…
It’s likely you have years of memories you can whip into a good storyline. That said, memories are funny things that don’t always work when we want them to. So brainstorming is essential.
Remember you’re not celebrating just any old septuagenarian – the people listening to your speech will be thrilled to actually recognise the person you’re talking about. Take an evening to go through photo albums and even consider asking friends and family about their funniest or most poignant memories of the birthday boy or girl.
Leave room for unplanned moments where someone may spur up a memory you hadn’t thought of before, that you can share a laugh about, before bringing it back to your speech. It’s important in these moments to remember that you are in a safe space full of supportive and loving people who won’t sway you from your speech unless they think you can handle it.
CONNECT YOUR STORIES WITH A THEME
Your role is to paint a picture with words that reminds everyone why the person you’re all here to celebrate is so wonderful. Take a recurring theme like a well-known saying or character trait to weave your anecdotes together and anchor you back to each section’s conclusion.
Allude to the theme throughout but you don’t have to be heavy handed with it. A few subtle references and some wordplay (if your theme is about your loved one’s prolific athletics career, you might use words like ‘flexible’ or ‘hurdles’ to refer to their personality or life experiences). And, staying on theme ourselves, don’t rush yourself towards the finish. Remember everyone in the room fully supports you.
DON’T GO ON AND ON
Be selective about the content you choose to keep and a plan for any interjections, because although they can be very welcome and add to the buzz of the moment, they may also sway the story off course and stretch out the length of the overall speech.
Contribute only your favourite – the funniest, most surprising, or warmly familiar – anecdotes to the speech. Your audience will love you for keeping it punchy so aim to leave them wanting more.
BACK UP YOUR CLAIMS
Relate instances that illustrate what you’ve said about your loved one. If they’re ‘kind’ – pay tribute to their years of volunteering at Oxfam. If they’re ‘funny’ – share the time they got you through a 10-mile hike of the Brecon Beacons on two blistered feet with ridiculous jokes in a Welsh accent.
Everyone thinks their friends and family are nice – go further and really home in on the birthday boy or girl’s character traits and show you really ‘see’ them.
Have a laugh
Humour is everything in a speech. It breaks the ice, locks the audience in, and makes everyone feel good. Keep yours as light, inclusive, and entertaining as possible. Give the subject and the audience stories they can be humbled by, or laugh along with, without wanting the earth to swallow them up.
Look for familiar quirks and inconsistencies in character. Are they broadly known to be quite serious by nature in work situations, but love to play the joker and rebel when no one’s watching?
Public speaking makes most people nervous, but don’t feel you have to put such pressure on yourself or leap out of your comfort zone. Everyone there just wants to have a good time and celebrate the person you all. They’re not expecting a stand-up routine or an Oscar winner’s speech.
The last place you should acquire humour from is the internet. Your loved one is worth more than recycled jokes or reruns of celebrity roasts. And resist leaning into insulting humour – there’s a fine line between well-meant teasing and actually being a bit mean.
The Sweet Spot
If you’ve followed the plan so far, your audience will respond kindly and affectionately to some well-timed sentiment as you close your speech. Acknowledging just how special the subject is to everyone in the room is a wonderful way to close your speech.
Trade on all the good feelings and memories you’ve stirred up and drop a love bomb that ties in everything you’ve said. Done well, your speech will add to that growing bank of feelgood memories!
How Speechy Can Help You…
Or just dive straight into working with us…