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80th Birthday Speech

80th Birthday Speech

No doubt about it, 80 is a landmark birthday deserving of a brilliant 8-minute speech – one for every decade! It might seem an impossible task, incorporating such a vast timeline of achievements and memories in less than ten minutes and one toast - but we can show you how.

(*Of course, if you’re looking for more than ‘advice’, check out all the different ways the Speechy team can help you write & deliver a great speech. Or check out our new AI-powered team member, SpeechyAI.)

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HOW TO WRITE A BRILLIANT 80TH BIRTHDAY SPEECH

The secret to a great speech is in the planning. So:

  • Visit the memory bank – you’ll have reams of hilarious and sweet content stored away
  • Choose a theme – find a recurring topic or idea that connects your stories
  • Keep it short – your stories will have more impact the punchier they are
  • Show and tell – give touching, funny examples that back up what’s great about them
  • Have a sense of humour – life can be serious, but sharing laughter is powerfully bonding
  • Say something sweet – sum up a lifetime of love in less than ten minutes

We’ll talk you through it…

VISIT THE MEMORY BANK

Dig out old photos and the memories will come flooding back. Keep your stories personal but inclusive. You want your audience nodding and smiling in recognition of the person they know and love, but feel free to surprise them with a ‘not many people know this but…’ and then add something weird or wonderful about your loved one.

And share the load – ask friends and family to contribute their own memories about the birthday boy or girl. Chances are, you’ll end up with a rich tapestry of anecdotes that overlap to weave a clear picture of character traits, daft recurring incidents, or a familiar catchphrase that makes you smile.

Next, with reams of anecdotes at your disposal, you should do exactly that – dispose of them, or at least half of them.  Keep only the funniest, most familiar, or most inspiring stories in your speech, and leave the dryer content out. You’ll know it’s a keeper if it makes you laugh out loud or you shed a nostalgic tear.

70TH birthday speech

CHOSE A THEME

Those shared memories should help inspire a theme that will keep your narrative flowing and rounded off neatly – and wittily – in the toast.

Perhaps a lifelong accountant is spending cash willy nilly on fabulous, frivolous things in his later years. Maybe your loved one has spent a life at sea and you can use it as a metaphor for life’s ebbs and flows, moments of smooth sailing and choppy waters, with lots going on under the surface. Or what has your teacher father learnt over the years?

KEEP IT SHORT

There’s nothing worse than a speech that goes on too long. Your loved one has already done 80 years of living, don’t make them sit through what feels like another lifetime, even if they are the main character that you’re painting in such a flattering light.

If you’ve already been selective about the content you’re planning to include, you’ll be well on your way to structuring a speech that’s hitting the right spots, in the right length of time. Open fast, be warm, punchy, a little cheeky, and concise! Leave them wanting just a little more.

No more than 1,300 words MAXIMUM so you can deliver the speech in less than ten minutes, even allowing for laughter.

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SHOW AND TELL

You’ll delight your audience if your speech sparks recognition of the subject’s quirks. It’s not enough to say they’re ‘fabulous’, ‘caring’, or ‘daft as a brush’. Provide evidence for these claims – the impressive, the sweet, and the side-splitting.

Have they shown their caring side by rescuing bats and hedgehogs for the past few decades? Do they rock a fabulous sequin gown just to go to the farmer’s market in town because life’s too short to save it for best? Maybe they entertain the grandkids by joining in with their TikTok videos and a particularly silly one went viral.

Whatever your story is, it should beautifully support any descriptors you’re using for the person in question.

HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR

A birthday speech calls for plenty of giggles. Start with an icebreaker – even if it’s just thanking everyone for braving the price of fuel to be there. Think humour, not jokes.

Many people have no idea how easy it can be to craft original comedy. But the ideal material is already at your fingertips, so rather than appropriating jokes off the internet or recycling cliches that’ll make people groan, speak candidly about the person at the heart of your speech.

Exaggerating their personality traits, tie in some supporting evidence, make fun of them in a good-natured, kind-hearted way that doesn’t push the boundary between funny and mean. If the subject of your speech is a little more sensitive, send yourself up, or just laugh at life’s many bonkers twists.

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SAY SOMETHING SWEET

With a crowd nicely warmed up with laughter and happily leaning into all the nostalgia you’ve wrapped around the room, you’ll be well-placed to wrap up your speech with a good old dose of sentimentality.

End your 8 minutes on a high and make this 80th birthday speech one to treasure in that memory box.

The Speechwriting Experts

The Speechy team are TV-trained scriptwriters/comedians by trade & we’ve helped 1,000s of speakers around the world deliver their dream speech.

Our advice has been quoted everywhere from The New York Times to Grazia and from Forbes to The Observer. Our founder has also featured on the BBC Sounds’ Best Men podcast with Jason Manford and written ‘The Modern Couple’s Guide to Wedding Speeches’, published by Little, Brown.

Heidi and the Speechy Team

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