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The 40th Birthday Speech - How to Write a Good One


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You've got the task of preparing a 40th birthday speech.

You want it to be a 3 minute dazzler to mark the milestone occasion however right now the job feels like a millstone.

There are lists of things to say and equally large lists of things not to say but not a lot about how to actually write the speech.

And that's where having step by step outline and a 40th birthday speech sample to look at would be good.

As of now you can quit tearing out your hair. Instead grab a piece of paper and a pen. We're going to go through the steps needed for you to have a completed 40th birthday speech that you'll be proud to deliver.

Let's start by getting down to basics with a few questions first.

  • Who is your audience? Is it family? Is it family and friends? Is it a mix of family, friends and work colleagues? Are they
    a mix of ages?

  • What type of celebration is it? Is it a formal dinner party? Is it informal?

  • Are you the only speaker or one of several?

The tone and what you put in your speech will be guided by your answers to the questions above. Obviously you'll leave out anything that could be misunderstood or inappropriate for your audience.

Now let's get the building blocks of your 40th birthday speech together.

On your paper write down these 3 headings with large enough spaces in between for notes.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Middle - Main idea 1, Main idea 2, Main idea 3
  3. 3. Conclusion

Using your knowledge of the audience, the birthday person and the occasion, begin filling in the blanks.

For instance next to 'Introduction' you might write: Hi and welcome to Bob's 40th birthday celebration. We're delighted to have you all with us.

And now move on to the next heading: Middle.
This is where you're going to put the most important points (main ideas) you want to make. As a birthday speech is generally only 3 minutes long you've got enough room for three. What you choose is up to you. Mostly though they're a mix of good natured fun about the birthday person, what they mean to you and perhaps a word or two of wisdom.

So your 'Middle' notes may look like this.

  • Main Idea 1: Childhood - I remember when Bob was 3 he wanted to be a fireman. He'd spend all day making siren noises and putting out imaginary fires with the garden hose.
  • Main Idea 2: Youth/Young adulthood - Collecting baseball cards, learning to skate board, getting his first real job
  • Main Idea 3: Present/Character/ Future - Along came Sally (wife) and children, joy, fatherhood, responsibility, promotion in job

Lastly write your notes next 'Conclusion': quote (you're going to look up some amusing or witty quotes on being 40 and weave one in here) and final toast. Example. 'Ladies and gentlemen, let's raise our glasses to Bob. May you have another happy energy filled 40 years!'

OK. This isn't a speech yet but it is an outline. To make the transition from this to a whole 40th birthday speech you are going to go back through and flesh out your notes making each idea link smoothly to the next.

The easiest way I know of doing this is to say it out loud as if you're just chatting with a friend.

I'll give you one example and then you can do the remainder for yourself.
We'll pick up

Main Idea 1. 'I remember when Bob was 3 he wanted to be a fireman. He'd spend all day making siren noises and putting out imaginary fires with the garden hose’.
What's needed is a bridge or transition to get from this idea to the next, 'collecting baseball cards, learning to skateboard and so on.

How about this? 'Fortunately for Aunty Betty's ears his next passion was quiet and neither did it leave puddles in the yard. It was baseball cards. Bob collected hundreds of them. He bartered for them, begged for them and stuck them all over his bedroom walls. Now he was Denny McLain with the roar of crowds as he stepped up to the plate cheering him on. Baseball was struck out by skateboards. Yehaa! We skated all over the city and Aunty Betty bought out the entire supply of band-aids from the supermarket. . . '

Now you have the idea, repeat it through all the parts of your outline.
It's important to say each segment outloud and experiment with links until you find the one that sounds right.

When you've finished linking say the whole speech aloud several times. Listen carefully and edit where necessary.

The process is simple. It works and that's how to write a unique 40th birthday speech you'll be pleased to deliver.

PS Do you want to see a finished sample before you begin your own writing? You'll find links to handy pages of witty and wise birthday quotations too.

The 40th Birthday Speech Sample

Are you ready to trade public speaking fear for public speaking success?
You'll find practical, manageable step by step resources to take you there at
Susan Dugdale is an ex-teacher, writer and word lover. She regularly practices what she preaches.


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