How to Give an Acceptance Speech in Style

So, you have to give a good acceptance speech. Congratulations. But, what is the event? The Oscar Awards ceremony, a presentation evening or an office party speech? No matter the event, there are some simple techniques for how to give an acceptance speech.

How to give an acceptance speech

Discover How To Give An Acceptance Speech

Know How To Give Your Acceptance Speech

Most, but not all acceptance speeches are short. So, take a cue from the Academy Awards (The Oscars). They organised a 45 second speech rule for acceptance speeches back in 2010. Therefore, you can expect any Oscars acceptance speech to be curtailed with a musical accompaniment after 45 seconds. It does work. Because there are so many examples of acceptance speeches that never seem to stop. The Golden Globe Awards aren't so public with their acceptance speech notes. But television ratings typically rule the roost.

But, beyond brevity your acceptance speech should contain all the right elements. Yes, those key points that just have to be there.

How To Give An Acceptance Speech

What You Should Include In Your Acceptance Speech.

  • An introduction, perhaps with a story, such as this storytelling acceptance speech from Emma Watson.
  • Thanks to people who have helped you
  • Next steps or learning points
  • Thank you, and goodbye

And that really is it. Your acceptance speech is just your chance to say thank you for the recognition. And, yes it's a thank you for the appreciation. Not least, because you are grateful for the privilege. That certainly came through with the Kate Winslet acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards for Mildred Pierce.

So, who will you mention in your acceptance speech? Again, it's best to keep your list short. Because we've all heard those acceptance speeches where every member of the family is mentioned, plus the masseuse and the pet dog.

Election Acceptance Speeches

Edward Malnick of The Sunday Telegraph discovered a fascinating Conservative Party internal email to all putative MPs at the recent General Election. In a measured tone it reminds the would-be MPs that their local counts are not the Oscars. Superb. Among other things it noted:

  1. 1
    Keep your acceptance speech short, local and uncontroversial
  2. 2
    Don't celebrate like a football goalscorer
  3. 3
    Prepare a short speech ahead of time
  4. 4
    Go to the lavatory in good time, as it's a long night
  5. 5
    Keep smiling and don't do an interview

Some excellent points, of course.

So, seriously, aim to keep your thanks relevant to the main subject. If you are lucky enough to be in with a chance of winning a BAFTA or a Grammy, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, a Brit or an RPS Award we might expect to hear you thank the producers. But, if it's Harvey Weinstein, perhaps not. Will Pavia, New York correspondent for The Times, calculates that former movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein was name-checked 11 times during his career by best actor/ actress and best supporting actor/ actress Oscar winners. But, no more.

Stories Always Work In Your Acceptance Speech

Stories always work well in an acceptance speech. But you have to tell them well. Of course, Colin Firth did just that with his BAFTA fridge speech when he won a BAFTA for A Single Man, in 2010. That speech also managed to link the story as a central theme.

Humour works, but it's always tricky and is perhaps best left to the experts. A Lady Gaga acceptance speech delivered via video proved fun and commendable. And then this Steve Coogan acceptance speech at the 2019 British Academy Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills is another superb example. It is, of course a bit lengthy. But, when you are the feature of the evening, everything is possible.

Getting Serious About Your Speech

Of course not every acceptance speech involves showbiz. Some are really quite serious. This Maajid Nawaz speech for the 2018 Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award is also a fine example. Yes, it's on the long side. But again, his speech is clearly the main feature of the evening. Well done.

And, when you have finished your acceptance speech, you can return the microphone and re-take your seat in the audience. Of course, the after-party beckons. But it's also very polite to listen to all the remaining awards and their associated speeches as well. And, it really should go without saying that you should also aim to hold back with the drinks before the awards ceremony gets going…if you are a nominee. Because you might well win. That was clearly a problem with a Mariah Carey speech when she won an award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in 2010.

Now, is there room for an impromptu speech? Of course there is. Just make sure that you follow the impromptu speech advice of former Oscar nominee, Quebec-based director Denis Villeneuve. And then prepare your acceptance speech well in advance.

You can always discover other public speaking tips from Time to Market. Read them, listen to them or watch the videos. It's your choice. and when you want to give your own public speaking skills a real boost, please don't hesitate to ask us about public speaking skills training.

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