By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 05-05-2021
Yay! A 40th birthday speech is called for and you've accepted the responsibility of writing and delivering it.
You may have read my tips on how to write a birthday speech and noted down a couple you think would make a good start.
However the BIG question remains: how do you put your material together to create the birthday speech you want to give?
Because I know having an example can help kick start the process of writing your own, I've got a 40th birthday speech sample here for you to use as a template.
Although it's about a specific milestone, the big four-0, you could easily adapt the format for any age you want.
Putting the speech in context will help you understand more easily.
The year is 2008. Imagine a very large family gathering. Everybody is seated around a dinner table set with all sorts of wonderful birthday food - a feast.
The candles have been lit and a woman, Mrs Martin, raps a fork on a glass. Its ring stops the talking. All eyes turn to her as she stands to give her daughter's 40th birthday speech.
'On behalf of the Martin family and Camille in particular, it is my pleasure to welcome you here tonight to her 40th birthday celebration.
We are delighted to have you with us and especial thanks to those who have traveled from afar. That's you, Bonny and David.
Before we eat I am going to say a few words about my beautiful daughter. I've promised her two things. I'll keep it short and I won't embarrass her by telling tales she'd rather I forgot.
In the year that bras were burnt at the Miss America Beauty Contest and "Lady Madonna" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" rocked the air waves, Camille Martin was born. 1968. It was, as Louis Armstrong sang, "a wonderful world" and made so much more so with the addition of you.
Forty years! Who would believe that looking at you? I can't and I'm your mother!
It seems just yesterday that I was singing "Rockabye
Baby" to get you to sleep, putting plasters on scraped knees,
policing your teenage curfews, not knowing whether to laugh or cry
with pride at your graduation from college and, then again at your
Putting my difficulty with time aside, facts are facts. You were born in 1968 and now it is 2008.
Camille, you've reached that age which is the subject of much wit.
Fortunately I've been there too and can report back truthfully. It's fine, despite its bad press. That particular F word is nothing to be frightened by.
We are indebted to Francis Cardinal Spellman for this gem. "You've heard of the three ages of man - youth, age, and you are looking wonderful" and to Lucille Ball for; "The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age."
But my favorite comes from John Andrew Holmes who is obviously a philosophical gardener; "At middle age ..."
(Now, don't look at me like that. Scowling doesn't change a thing. Ask a 15 year old. Anyone 40 and over has reached their middle years. It is what it is.)
Anyway, John Andrew Holmes had this to say: "At middle age the soul should be opening up like a rose, not closing up like a cabbage."
To us Camille, you will always look and be wonderful. We admire and love your energy, the way you share your gift for living fully with your family and friends, we delight in your children, the integrity you bring to your work, the joy you find in the outdoors ... My list could go on indefinitely but our delicious meal would go cold.
Let's raise our glasses to Camille. You are a rose, our rose, and in our eyes you always be in full bloom. Here's to another 40 cabbage-free years!
And now let's enjoy the evening and, eat slowly!
Q: How long does this 40th birthday speech take to say?
A: It takes approximately 3 minutes.
Q: Where I got the 'what happened in 1968' material from?
A: It came from Wikipedia - 1968 in music, and this excellent 1968 reference time line. They're both useful historical resource sites.
Q: Where I got the quotes from?
A: They come from my site. There's a page devoted to milestone birthday quotations, along with another couple: witty birthday quotations for those who want a chuckle, and wise quotations about birthdays for those who want a more philosophical tone.
Q: Did I write a speech outline before I wrote the actual speech?
A: Yes, I did. It's on the back of an envelope beside my computer! The finished speech follows it fairly well even though I tweaked it a little.
Here's a page on using speech outlines with a blank, downloadable, printable speech outline template for you to use. I promise it will make the process of writing much, much easier.
Q: Did I say this 40th birthday speech several times out loud to see if it flowed and did I edit it as a result of reading it out loud, and timing it?
A: Yes. I edited quite a bit out because I felt it had got too long and no longer served the original purpose: to set a warm and welcoming tone to the celebration while being brief.
Rehearsal is invaluable. To put it bluntly: you need to do it if you want your speech to go well. Find out how to rehearse.
Q: Do I really have a daughter called Camille who was forty in 2008?
A: No, I don't. (However, I do have a wonderful son called James.) I invented Camille so I could write this sample speech for you. Now she's alive and well in my imagination I like her quite a lot. I hope she enjoys her 40th birthday speech!
Q: If there are other sample birthday speeches on my site?
A: Yes, there's this 50th birthday speech and this 18th birthday speech if you want more to read before you begin to write.
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