Speech! Speech!

I’m getting to that time in life when all of my friends are turning 21. This has generally involved a party every weekend, a lot of dancing (Grease Megamix, anyone?), a lot of outfit coordination, a lot of fun and a lot of speeches. A LOT OF SPEECHES. The creation of a perfect birthday speech is a very difficult thing, and the pressure is often on to deliver. So, how can you create a good and memorable speech that your friend will love you for?

Step 1: Target Audience and Time Limit
These are the first things that you should consider when you begin writing your speech. I have been to a couple of parties where MULTIPLE people have spoken, and they have all spoken for at least 20 minutes each…or so if feels like it anyway. Keep your speech to a reasonable length to save people from nodding off, or talking in the middle of it–and you really don’t want that; it is frustrating and terribly off-putting. This is especially important if there are speeches before and after you. Even if you are the only speaker for the night, don’t take this as a sign that you can give a 30 minute history into the life of the birthday boy or girl. Second, consider the people you are speaking to: who is actually in attendance at this party? If there are a lot of family members, there are certain stories you may have wanted to tell, but won’t be able to…or at least only be able to tell the PG version.

Step 2: KNOW what you are going to talk about.
If you are giving a speech for a close friend, you may think that you could gab on about all the good times you’ve had together forever, only to be stuck up at the front of the party with a microphone and the only story you can recall off the top of your head isn’t even that funny. Take a moment to jot down a few hilarious moments or personal jokes–remembering to take into account who will be in attendance at the party (from step number 1). I am a firm believer that personal jokes and hilarious moments have a large place in birthday speeches–after all, the speech is aimed at the birthday girl or boy who will understand the jokes. However, it can make the rest of the party a little bored (we’ve all experienced this, I’m sure), so make sure you find a happy medium between general stories and specific stories. Background knowledge as to how the personal joke came about if often a hilarious story in itself so you may want to include that somewhere in the speech.

Step 3: Be creative!
My favourite part. Obviously if you have been asked to give a speech at a close friend’s party you will want to deliver something memorable and special, so think creatively about how you could deliver the speech. One of the best speeches I have heard this year was an apology. The two friends who gave the speech had spent hours trying to think of hilarious stories about the birthday girl they could say. Instead, all they kept coming up with were stories which reflected badly on them…so they decided to “apologize” for all the times they had teased her, accidentally gotten her into trouble with teachers, and generally been less than impressive friends. It was a tongue-in-cheek speech, with many hilarious moments. 

Another way to create a unique speech is to think of the persons likes or dislikes, their job, or their line of study. A recent 21st I attended featured the father of the birthday girl (who is studying medicine) giving a “case presentation” about his daughter–med students use case presentations to quickly update consultant doctors about patients on wards. It was a cute way to learn more about my friend! If you have any musical ability, you could write your friend a song–or if you are like me and don’t really have any musical ability, you could change the words of their favorite song to reflect their life and sing along! There are also poems, raps, rhymes, interpretive dance…well, maybe not, but you get the picture.

Step 4: End it on an emotional note.
I am a sucker for sappiness so of course this is a mandatory requirement in any speech I make, but can be optional for any you decide to write. Perhaps more suited to friends you have known for quite a while, don’t forget to add something in about how much you love and appreciate the friendship of the birthday boy or girl! Yeah, corny. But in the same way a 21st is the perfect excuse to dance like a crazy person to all your favorite tunes from your childhood, it is also the perfect excuse to tell your friend you love them–because you can never say it enough.

Any tips for the birthday speech writers out there?