What Award Show Speeches Teach Us About Public Speaking

by Modis on February 29, 2016

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oscar speechesThe fear of public speaking is a very real thing for some people. Acceptance speeches, especially those that are unexpected, can be extra intimidating. It’s important to realize, though, that acceptance speeches are usually fairly short and straightforward. The purpose is simply to acknowledge your appreciation for the award and thank those that helped you earn it.

Some of the most memorable lines from the recent Oscars acceptance speeches can teach us a lot about public speaking in general. Here are our key takeaways and most notable moments from the 2016 Oscars acceptance speeches:

Be Prepared

It’s no surprise that Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been nominated for five other Academy Awards in years past, took home the coveted award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in The Revenant. His acceptance speech was nothing short of historic and can teach us to be prepared for the big moment. Leo’s speech was sincere and full of gratitude, yet purposeful when connecting his film to climate change.

The key takeaway – if you know ahead of time that you’ll possibly win an award, and/or give a speech, it’s imperative to prepare in advance the message you want to communicate to your audience. That way, you’re not misinterpreting things or forgetful.

Understand Your Allotted Time

The winners are allotted a brief amount of time to give their acceptance speeches, and, inevitably, the “wrap up” music always starts playing before they’re finished, causing an awkward push to finish their acknowledgments.

Unusually, Pete Doctor & Jonas Rivera’s acceptance speech for Best Animated Feature for Inside Out was perfectly timed. Check it out:

The key takeaway – as with any presentation, it’s important to find out how much time you have ahead of the event, so that you can prepare your speech accordingly.

Decide the Cadence of the Presentation with Multiple Presenters

Often, full project teams are nominated for an award. If it’s not agreed upon in advance who the acceptance speaker(s) will be, the first person to the microphone may end up taking the entire time slot, leaving the rest of the group out of the opportunity to speak.

Again, Doctor and Rivera did an impeccable job of balancing out their speeches and playing off of each other’s words during their acceptance speech for Best Animated Feature. They truly “tag-teamed” the speech and were both well represented.

The key takeaway – it’s important to decide ahead of time, for any type of presentation, whether only one person will speak, or if several team members will speak. If several people speak, then you’ll need to plan out how much time each person will have.

Show Gratitude and Appreciation

When you’re enjoying your moment in the sun, it can be tough to recall all of the people who assisted in your success. And as any disgruntled employee can tell you, nothing is more frustrating than a boss who takes credit for your work. To avoid an unsavory speaking situation, take a queue from Alicia Vikander’s acceptance speech.

While Vikander was enjoying the limelight, she was still careful to pay homage to the movie crew, director and her costar, Eddie Redmayne. While her excitement was palpable, she still managed to acknowledge those closest to her, namely her family, friends and “dream team.”

The speech’s pointed gratitude was matched by her authentic approach to the excitement of winning. At the end, Vikander tells her parents that she is grateful that they instilled “the belief that anything can happen.” The result is a gracious award acceptance.

The key takeaway – remember, it’s not all about you; there was probably a team that helped you along the way, and you must consider them.

Personalize a Presentation

Embedding your speech with a clear sense of self can be challenging. Sometimes, it’s hard to put a personal spin on the concepts you’re trying to relay, particularly if the subject matter is dry. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, take a look at Jenny Beavan’s acceptance speech. Beavan seems to have won more than just an Oscar, capturing the affection of some major media outlets. Everything from her outfit to her final message to the audience felt personal, and the result was mesmerizing.

Addressing onlookers in a cool leather jacket, Beavan brought a sense of normalcy to the event. At a particularly earnest moment, she explained that she doesn’t “do frocks” and she absolutely doesn’t “do heels.” By proudly accepting her award with charming candor, Beaven creates a feeling of accessibility that is atypical amongst the Hollywood set. But she didn’t stop there; she finished her speech by remarking on the importance of kindness and environmental protection, highlighting two causes close her heart.

The key takeaway – be yourself. You’ll feel more comfortable and gain more admiration.

Public Speaking Can Shape Your Career

Learning the ins and outs of public speaking can be a great personal growth opportunity—and another way to elevate your tech career! Take a look at our open positions. Begin your search!

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