Eventually, there may come an occasion for which you have the chance to give an acceptance speech. Maybe you have been nominated for an award, like an Academy Award, and the whole world will be watching you receive it… or the award could be for the best coach of the minor league. Regardless of the award’s level or prestige, though, your friends, family, people you respect, and people in your industry will likely be present in the audience. This will be your opportunity to speak to those people. So why not make the best of it? There is nothing worse than someone winning a significant award, fumbling around, saying, “Oh god, I could never think I would win, so I didn’t prepare anything.” You must prepare.
Pay respect to the people who chose to nominate you for this award. Do them justice. If you prepare a speech and don’t win, no one is hurt by your preparation, and it won’t even take you that long. Remember, a speech is an opportunity to put the spotlight on ideas you care about. Thank the people who helped you with this award, and don’t blow it. Don’t wait until the last minute, and don’t make excuses. Prepare to win the award and make a speech. Even if you don’t win, you can always use the acceptance speech if you win next time. Here are some practical yet significant tips to prepare for your acceptance speech.
Focus on the Goals of the Speech
Start by focusing on the goals of your acceptance speech. After all, an acceptance speech is still a speech, even if it is a short one – usually under a minute. Acceptance speeches are also different from typical speeches as you will not have a PowerPoint display. You will not have a beginning, middle, and end, no long stories, or walking around the stage and talking for fifty minutes like with a keynote speech, but it’s still a speech. It is an opportunity to make a great impression, no impression, or an awful impression. Your goals for the speech must include making a great impression, thanking the people who were relevant to helping you do what you did, and conveying at least one idea people can take with them. You can leave them with thoughts like inspiring them to follow their dreams, motivating them to work hard, etc., but this is not an opportunity to communicate five or ten points. It is an opportunity to focus on one of life’s lessons or one fundamental idea.
Be Grateful in the Best Way
When people win an award, the first thing they often do is thank the people who helped them achieve it. You must do this as well, but there is a particular way you should go about thanking them. If the person you want to thank us in the room, look them in the eyes and thank them in the most specific way possible, mentioning what they did for you. Tell them precisely what you are thanking them for. It will become more enjoyable for everyone, and your thanks will have real meaning. You will express yourself in a more meaningful way and sound more sincere. This is much more effective than just rattling off a long list of names. Do not just say “support” as it seems generic and does not mean anything.
If you are receiving an award in any creative field, keep in mind you are an entertainer, so something in your acceptance speech must be entertaining. It may be something funny or at least a dramatic moment. It isn’t enjoyable when people known as world-class entertainers get on stage for an acceptance speech and sound like an accountant reading a phonebook. Remember who you are and display your strengths. Say something amusing, entertaining, and memorable for the audience. So plan on what you will have to say. More people will watch your acceptance speech than your videos or movies.
Follow the Greats
The reality is most acceptance speeches are not exciting or memorable. They are forgotten instantaneously. Your role model should be great acceptance speeches. Look at the acceptance speeches of famous people, which turned out to be some of the best acceptance speeches ever given. You can find many examples of such speeches on YouTube. Notice the energy, flow, and pattern they talk with. Look at their gestures and how they talk to the audience. Most of them will be brief because that is how ideal acceptance speeches should be: short, engaging, comprehensive, and straightforward. What worked for them might work well for you, and you can make an incredible acceptance speech at your event. If you are winning an award for the best accountant of the year, you may not feel wildly funny, but the same rules apply. You must say something interesting that everyone will enjoy hearing.
Add a Story
An interesting acceptance speech sometimes includes a story. The story can’t be too long, but it is possible to very briefly share a conversation with a colleague, friend, or family member about a challenge, how you overcame it, and how it is relevant to what you are here for. You can share the story of your struggle, which is compelling and motivational.
An acceptance speech is critical, like any other speech you deliver on stage. It is pretty short compared to any everyday speech but leaves a profound impression on the audience’s minds. Focus on the goals and what you want to share with the audience. Thank the people you want to thank in a precise and particular way, addressing them by name if they are present. You must be particularly interesting if you belong to the entertainment industry, but you can view the acceptance speeches of some other great entertainers to see how they deliver their speeches. Finally, add a brief inspirational or motivational story to make it more amusing and exciting.