5 1/2 Public Speaking Lessons from the Golden Globes

The Public Speaker and her friend Sherri Barksdale share 5  1/2 commonly overlooked public speaking lessons learned from watching the 2014 Golden Globes.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #236

Lesson #4: Calm Your Nerves

When Jennifer Lawrence accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress, she was nervous and she made sure we all knew it. Her body language clearly said, "I’m shaking, this is scary" – she even pulled at her strapless dress in a nervous gesture. Everyone loves Jennifer Lawrence, so she could get away with this. However, following her speech many others got up on stage and made a point of saying how nervous they were. It got old really fast.

We all get nervous speaking in front of a group of people. It's one of the biggest fears people cop to having. And I’m sure the cameras and lights make the situation even more intimidating. When you’re getting ready to speak in front of an audience, do your best to calm your nerves before you go up on stage. Don’t announce that you’re nervous. Try to keep your body relaxed and your hands calm. Speak slowly and deliberately. If you need to, pause briefly or take a sip of water.  Oh, and the day before the event you might want to listen to my episodes on how to calm your nerves for a few more ideas.

Lesson #5: Make it Personal

From a public speaking perspective, the Golden Globes was filled with what we might call “teachable moments.” But there were two speeches that really stood out to me. Amy Adams and Matthew McConaughey were both enjoyable to listen to. Part of it was that they’re true professionals who can stay calm and composed when others can’t. But what really made them likeable was their use of personal stories to make a point. This is something I talk about in the Public Speaker podcast a lot because it’s so important. One of the best ways to engage your audience is by telling a personal story.

This is how Amy Adams thanked her long-time manager. It was so much more interesting than listening to a list of names:

“I have to say, today’s my fifteenth, well not today exactly, but close, my fifteenth anniversary of moving out to L.A., thinking...maybe I’ll get a commercial or something. And I walked into this woman’s office, Stacy O’ Neil, who’s here tonight, and she sent me on my first audition. She’s still my manager. And I still ask her, what made you pick me. What made you do that? And she said she had a feeling. And I just want to thank her so much for that feeling, and for sharing so many other feelings.”

Matthew McConaughey ended his speech with this inspiring story about his mother. Again, many actors thank their moms at the end of an acceptance speech, but Matthew’s speech told us how she had helped get him to this point in his career:

“I want to say thank you to my mother for a real reason: When we were growing up, we weren’t movie kids, we weren’t TV kids, we weren’t media kids. If it was daylight, you had to be outside playing, and we’d go, ‘Why, mom?’ and she’d say, ‘Don’t watch somebody on TV do it for you, go out and do it for yourself.'”

Lesson #5 1/2: Avoid Long Songs or Quotes

Now that I’ve given my top 5 lessons from the Golden Globes, I want to add a bonus.  If you were patient enough to sit through the long, dry tribute to Woody Allen, you got to witness one of the most awkward moments ever seen at an awards show – Diane Keaton ending her tribute by singing accapella “Make new friends, but keep the old”! One verse was forgivable, but when she went on to round 2, well, let's just say, it got awkward fast.

So please don’t sing (or read) long sections of song or poem.  If you want to sing or add a quote, keep it very, very, short.

And that wraps up the 5 1/2 lessons my pal Sherri and I learned from watching the Golden Globes. 

I'm Lisa B. Marshall, Helping you maximize sales, manage perceptions, and enhance leadership through keynotes, workshops, books, and online courses. Passionate about communication; your success is my business.

What do all extraordinarily successful people have in common? Some traits are obvious - others are not what you might expect! Listen to absolutely riveting conversations with exceptional people to learn secrets of success and how to apply them to your life at smarttalksuccess.com/stitcher or smarttalksuccess.com/itunes. This week learn unexpected habits for happiness from Marci Shimoff and from C.C. Chapman how make amazing things happen.  

Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, and Jennifer Lawrence images courtesy of Shutterstock.



About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.