Birthday Speeches - Tips

Birthday speeches can be so nerve-wracking, especially when you're stuck for words.

Don't know where to start your birthday speech? If you need professional speechwriting tips, you've come to the right place. I've written hundreds of speeches, so I have many insider tips for you.

By Kevin Nishmas 
Updated: September 30, 2023

Tips to Make Birthday Speeches Memorable

To get started, take a look at my proven birthday speechwriting tips below and check out some speech samples right here.

Because your loved one's birthday celebration is important enough to call for a speech from you, it's not enough to just get it right  — you need to make yours memorable.

Go the extra mile with these professional speechwriting tips.

8 things to consider before writing birthday speeches

1. Decide to write a formal or informal speech

  • You'll need a formal speech (an average-length speech) for a formal reception
  • Give an informal speech (a shorter version) for a casual house party

2. Consider your audience

  • Find out who's invited to the birthday celebration. Only family? Family and friends? Co-workers? The boss? 
  • Tailor your speech to give your audience exactly what you think they want, need and/or expect to hear. For example, if your audience is mostly made up of family and friends, get a little personal with your birthday speech.
  • Use a presentation style and project a personality that fits your audience.

3. Find out if you're the only speaker

  • As the only speaker, you'll need to cover many topics.
  • If you're one of many speakers, you may only have to cover one subject.

4. Pick the right tone of voice

  • Generally, your tone should be light-hearted, funny, sincere, congratulatory and upbeat.

5. Avoid anything hurtful or embarrassing

  • You can be humorous (i.e. tease the birthday boy or girl) but, as I mentioned above, be playful, not mean-spirited.
  • Don't use any obscene language, unless the audience calls for it (again, know your room).
  • Don't be off-color or pornographic in any way (most people don't enjoy anything too X-rated in mixed company).
  • Never delve into any sensitive subject areas, like alcoholism (this will just turn the birthday celebration into a nightmare).

6. Determine how long you should speak

  • If you're making an informal speech, make your birthday speech at least three minutes in length (the gold standard).
  • Make your birthday speech longer than three minutes (but no longer than six or seven minutes) when it's for a major milestone birthday (40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th or 100th birthday).
  • Generally, use the KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) rule. The shorter the speech, the more memorable it will be.

7. Prepare and practice to stay calm 

  • Preparation and practice will help you overcome a chunk of your public speaking fears. 
  • Practice your speech until you can deliver it easily (until you have all the phrasing, pauses and timing exactly right).
  • How long should you practice? That depends on you. But the rule of thumb is as follows: for every four minutes,you should practice four hours.
  • Practice delivering the speech in front of a friend or family member you trust (this is one of the best ways to overcome stage fright).
  • For more tips on calming your nerves before making a speech, take a moment to read this great article: Crushing the Fear of Public Speaking. It's worth your time.   

8. Deliver your speech like a pro

  • Scan the audience slowly (not too slow) and look at the birthday boy or girl as you speak. Basically, maintain eye contact with the birthday girl or boy and look just over the heads of the audience.
  • Use your normal voice to deliver your speech (let the mic or the room's acoustics do the rest). 
  • Write your speech on numbered index cards, which are so much easier to handle as you speak.

To round out your speechwriting knowledge, check out 10 tips from Forbes magazine

To see my speechwriting tips in action, take a moment to look at my custom-written speech samples.

Use a Time-Tested Outline to Write Birthday Speeches

Birthday Speeches: Milestone Birthday Speech Tips & More

1. Introduction

  • Greeting: Start by welcoming everyone and expressing your pleasure to be speaking on such a special occasion.
  • Relationship: Briefly describe your relationship with the birthday person.
  • Purpose: Explain the reason for your speech, which is to celebrate the life and achievements of the birthday boy or girl.

2. Background

  • Overview: Give a brief summary of the birthday person's life, focusing on the key events and achievements.
  • Personal story: Share a personal story about the birthday person. This could be something fun, memorable or inspiring, which can showcase their character.

3. Achievements & Contributions

  • Highlight their accomplishments in their personal or professional life or their contributions to the community.
  • Describe how they've made a difference or had an impact on the lives of others.

4. Personal Appreciation

  • Express your personal appreciation and feelings for the birthday person. What do they mean to you? How have they influenced or affected your life?
  • Include any specific qualities or characteristics that you admire about them.

5. Birthday Wishes

  • Present your personal birthday wishes to the birthday person. This could include your hopes for their happiness, health and continued success.
  • Encourage others to express their wishes as well.

6. Toast

  • Propose a toast to the birthday person, celebrating their past, acknowledging their present and looking forward to their future.
  • Keep it heartfelt and positive, focusing on their qualities and the joy they bring to people's lives.

7. Closing Remarks

  • Conclude with a final birthday wish or sentiment. This could be a quote, a proverb, or a simple expression of goodwill.
  • Thank everyone for their attention and participation in the celebration.

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Use these 40 questions to write memorable birthday speeches

Use the 40 questions below to write your speech. Try to answer each one. The more you answer, the better your speech will be.

About You

  1. Can you please describe your relationship with the birthday person?
  2. What memorable experiences have you shared with the birthday person?
  3. What qualities do you admire most about the birthday person?
  4. How has the birthday person impacted or influenced your life?
  5. What personal birthday wishes or sentiments would you like to convey to the birthday person?
  6. Are there any specific anecdotes, stories or jokes you'd like to share?

About the Birthday Person

  1. Can you provide a brief summary of the birthday person's background (like where they were born and/or their upbringing)?
  2. What are some significant milestones or achievements in the birthday person's life? This could be educational, professional or personal.
  3. Are there any notable contributions the birthday person has made to their community or any significant influences on the lives of others?
  4. Are there any charities, causes or organizations that the birthday person is passionate about?
  5. Does the birthday person have any interesting or unusual hobbies, talents, or skills?
  6. Are there any challenges or obstacles the birthday person has overcome that you'd like to mention?
  7. What are some of the birthday person's most admirable qualities or characteristics?
  8. Are there any fun, amusing or interesting quirks about the birthday person that could be mentioned for a lighthearted moment in the speech?
  9. What are the birthday person's hopes, dreams, or aspirations for the future?
  10. Are there any significant life experiences or turning points in the birthday person's life that we haven't discussed?
  11. What are some of the birthday person's favorite things (e.g., music, movies, books, foods, places or activities)?
  12. How would the birthday person describe their own personality, values or life philosophy?
  13. Are there any specific cultural, historical or personal events that have had a significant impact on the birthday person's life?
  14. Can you share any lesser-known or surprising facts about the birthday person?
  15. Has the birthday person had any mentors, role models or heroes who have influenced their life?
  16. How would the birthday person like to be remembered, or what legacy would they like to leave?

About the Birthday Person’s Family

  1. Can you tell me about the birthday person's family? This includes parents, siblings, spouse, and children, if applicable.
  2. How would you describe the birthday person's relationship with their family?
  3. Are there any special family traditions or customs that the birthday person particularly cherishes?
  4. Has the family had any significant influence on the birthday person's life and choices? If so, how?
  5. Are there any memorable, touching or funny family moments, experiences or anecdotes that should be included in the speech or that the audience might appreciate?
  6. How have the birthday person's family relationships shaped them as a person?
  7. What role does the birthday person play in their family (e.g., peacekeeper, organizer, mentor, etc.)?
  8. Would any family members like to contribute personal messages, wishes, or stories to be included in the speech?
  9. How has the birthday person influenced their family members, and vice versa?

About the Birthday Person’s Friends

  1. Can you share some details about the birthday person's close friends?
  2. How would you describe the birthday person as a friend? What qualities make them a good friend?
  3. Are there any memorable, humorous, heartwarming anecdotes, experiences or adventures about the birthday person and their friends that would add a personal touch to the speech?
  4. Have the birthday person's friendships had a significant influence on their life? If so, how?
  5. What role does the birthday person play in their friend group (e.g., the planner, the listener, the comic, etc.)?
  6. Are there any humorous or heartwarming anecdotes about the birthday person and their friends that would add a personal touch to the speech?
  7. How have the birthday person's friendships evolved over the years?
  8. Do any friends wish to contribute personal messages, stories, or birthday wishes to be included in the speech?
  9. How have the birthday person's friends influenced them, and vice versa?

I've used these questions over and over again to write speeches for milestone birthdays, for both birthday boys and girls turning 30 to 100 years old. See my speech samples right now.

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Kevin, the "Message Guy" who writes the birthday wishes, quotes, poems, toasts and speeches on, has been a content writer since 1993. In 2012, Kevin created this site to share the incredible power of words with birthday well-wishers everywhere.

Learn More About Kevin Here

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