Making it to 80 is like reaching the final round of Squid Game in these trying times. You’ve had wars, recessions, and more prime ministers than hot dinners to contend with – not to mention getting your head around how Twitter works.
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.
Speechy have worked with sons, daughters, siblings, partners, colleagues, and friends who want to pay tribute to their loved one on a big birthday and remind them just how appreciated they are. As trained writers for TV and radio, we know how to make an audience smile, laugh, and roll their eyes at life’s twists and turns. We help people share wonderful memories with the people they love, without boring them sober and leaving them looking longingly over at the bar.
So here’s our guide to giving an 80th birthday speech people will love…
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 – of course you’ll want to be sentimental, but try to do keep it light
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.
Even will reams of anecdotes at your disposal, you should do exactly that – dispose of them, or at least half. 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 shed a nostalgic tear at as you write it down.
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.
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.
KEEP IT SHORT
There’s nothing worse than a speech that goes on too long. Your mate’s 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.
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 ice breaker – 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.
SAY SOMETHING SWEET
With a crowd nicely warmed up with laughter and happily leaning in to 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.
HOW SPEECHY CAN HELP YOU...
Get 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.