Why Jared Leto Had the Best Oscar Acceptance Speech

We can learn a lot about public speaking by watching The Oscars. The Public Speaker reviews Jared Leto’s Oscar acceptance speech and explains why it’s a great example of how to accept an award.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #241

Tip #3: Talk Directly to Your Audience

When talking about your audience, or a part of your audience, don’t use terms like “them” or “they”. Address your audience directly. Jared Leto did this when he made a reference to people in Ukraine and Venezuela:

"To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say we are here and as you struggle to…make your dreams happen, to live the impossible…We’re thinking of you tonight."  

He ends with another “you” statement:

"...and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you."

Leto supports his message with body language, holding his Oscar up and shaking it as if to say “this is for you.”

Tip #4: Practice, But Don't Memorize

I give Jared Leto extra points for appearing to be off-the-cuff, yet showing that he had clearly prepared for this night. He didn’t read off a piece of paper, but he also didn’t sound like he was just reciting a smooth, memorized speech.

One question I get asked a lot is “Should I read my speech from notes or should I memorize it?” My answer lies somewhere in-between. Reading your speech can make you look like a robot or show how nervous you are. Memorizing is risky too. If you focus too hard on repeating what you’ve memorized, you’re likely to be thrown off if you forget your next line.

I can’t tell you how Jared Leto prepared, but I recommend practicing enough to be comfortable but not over-rehearsed. Practice with a partner and record yourself practicing. If absolutely necessary, you can use notes, but keep them short and simple. Notes should be just that, notes to jog your memory or help you get back on track if you get lost.

Ultimately, it's ok if you have one or two disfluencies and don't say it perfectly. It's far better to sound authentic with a few mistakes than to sound as if you are reading or as if you are overly slick. 

And the Winner Is . . .

This is the first year Jared Leto has won an acting award. His Golden Globes speech was the work of a first-timer who probably didn’t expect to win. By learning from his mistakes and working hard to keep improving, he finished the awards season sounding and looking like a seasoned veteran. 

This is 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. 

Do you struggle with difficult conversations?  Do you procrastinate when it comes to delivering feedback? Do you know how to effectively persuade and influence others?  Learn this and more in my book Smart Talk. Get your personally signed copy today!

Oscar and Jared Leto 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.

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