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The 40th Birthday Speech

Child's number block - 4 - with yellow speech balloon

Yay! A 40th birthday speech is required 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 taken down a couple you think are great.

But the BIG question remains:  how do you put it all 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.

(*You'll note the speech was written a few years ago now. Although the dated examples no longer tally, the technique is evergreen!)

Let's set the scene first

A single white candle burning

Putting the speech in context will help you understand more easily.

Imagine a very large family gathering. Everybody is seated around a dinner table set with all sorts of wonderful birthday food. 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.

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 wedding.

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 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 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 hearts you always be in full bloom. Here's to another 40 cabbage-free years!

And now let's enjoy the evening and, eat slowly!

In case you're wondering -

Child's block showing number 4

- How long this 40th birthday speech takes to say
Approximately 3 minutes

- Where I got the 'what happened in 1968 material' from
It came from Wikipedia -1968 in music and this 1968 reference timeline. They're both great resources for finding out what was happening when.

Retro birthday card -May health, wealth and happiness be yours'

- Where I got the quotes from
They come from my site. There's a page devoted to milestone birthday quotations as well as another couple of pages filled with birthday quotes too: witty birthday quotations for those who want a chuckle and wise quotations for those who want a more philosophical tone.

- If I wrote an outline before I wrote the actual speech
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 the order a little.

Here's a page on using speech outlines with a blank, downloadable, printable speech outline template to use. I promise it will make the process of writing easier.

- Did I say this 40th birthday speech several times out loud to see if it flowed and did I edit as a result of hearing it?
Yes. I edited quite a bit out because I felt it had got too long and no longer served the original purpose which was to set a warm and welcoming tone to the celebration while being brief.

- Do I really have a 40 year old daughter called Camille?
No, I don't. I invented her so I could write this sample for you but now she's alive and well in my imagination I like her a lot. I hope she enjoys her 40th birthday speech!

- If there are other sample birthday speeches on my site?
Yes, there's this 50th birthday speech if you want one more to read before you begin to write.

Is your speech writing 'bla, bla, bland'?
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Are you stuck with a speech, trapped by perfection paralysis?

You want to say it right but words are slippery.

You get one safely down. But the next three slide away and then, the first is no good any more.

What you imagined was straightforward is more STOP than GO.

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I can review what you've done if you've started, and finish it.
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And there's more throughout the site.
Check these pages to see others.

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When you do, you can speed the process up by sending any notes you've got and telling me:
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- and anything else you think I should know.

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