How Not to Give an Acceptance Speech

When you receive an award, there are two extremes you want to avoid: being too prepared and not being prepared enough. 

Lisa B. Marshall,
June 17, 2015

This past week, actress Ruthie Ann Miles was a bit over-prepared when she won a Tony Award. She was overwhelmed with emotion, which was quite endearing, but she read her acceptance speech from her iPhone, and seemed to thank practically everyone she knew. It went on for so long that some drums started playing, as a signal for her to hurry up, but she didn't end the speech; she just talked faster. 

In 2011 at the People's Choice Awards, actress Kristen Stewart seemed completely taken by surprise when she won Favorite Movie Actress, She couldn’t coherently thank anyone in particular. She mumbled, rambled a little, and finished with, “Anyway, thank you so much, I’m gonna get outta here.” Ok, she’s young. But that’s not the kind of acceptance speech most of us would like to give.

You don’t want to find yourself in either of these positions. The best acceptance speech should be short, clearly spoken, and generous. 

Yes, acknowledge that you have many people to thank for getting you to this position, but then choose just a couple of the most influential to recognize by name. Your 5th grade teacher who encouraged you to take this path is probably not the person you should be mentioning. Rather, talk about the people who were most influential and helpful for this particular accomplishment.

If receiving this award somehow puts you in a position to benefit your world or your field in some way, mention it. Is it a philanthropic award? Mention how the award could help the cause. Is it a business award? Mention how you hope to mentor others to follow in your footsteps.

Again, be short, clear, and generous. Your audience will feel even more pleased with the choice after such an acceptance speech.

This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence. If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business

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