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Speech Lessons From the Oscars – How to Be A Speaking Winner Every Time!

The Oscars

Whether you’re giving an acceptance speech to 40 million viewers or presenting to 15 colleagues in a meeting room, you need to inform, entertain, and inspire your audience.

Here are 6 sizzling lessons you can learn from the Academy Awards this week:

  1. Don’t Start a Speech Trying to Be Profound – Many “old school” speech coaches will have you start out of nowhere with a brilliant quote or a dramatic moment. Wrong! It just confuses your audience. They are still trying to figure out who you are and what you look like. Think Anne Hathaway as the first presenter and you’ll see what I mean. She begins with a sputtering of character names, but we have no idea what she is taking about! If she had even so much as uttered “good evening,” we would have understood.
  2. Write Notes Not Your Entire Speech – It’s OK to have notes, but they should be reminders of key points, not the whole enchilada! The animated short film winner of Mr. Hublot made us all nervous as that folded white paper shook in his hand. Even worse, he read every word spiraling us down the boredom drain. HINT: Use 3 x 5 cards for notes.
  3. Practice and Practice – Yes, you can tell me that practicing an acceptance speech is a superstitious curse, but I say that you should always have a pocket full of stories and lessons at the ready. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to spontaneously present, speak longer than originally planned or just come up and say a few words.” Do you have a talk in your hip pocket?
  4. Stories CaptivateJared Leto captivated us not only because of his hair and those eyes, but because of the focused attention on his family. His gratitude didn’t extend to a litany of names, but to real people we could see in the audience; we felt his passion.  Similarly, the winner of The Lady in Number 6 devoted his speech to 2 lessons learned from his film’s focus. Wow!
  5. Entertain Us – Want to guess when everyone took a bathroom break? During the boring speeches! Don’t be one of them by remembering that it is all entertainment! The winners of the best original song Frozen added a fun factor by creating a rhyming acceptance talk. Loved it!
  6. Create a Moment – You must brand out and stand out. Just ask Darlene Love as she jumped at the opportunity to sing her stuff. Are you ready to strut yours?

Want even more speaking lessons? I’m dishing over 90 minutes of FREE content on my first class of Fire Starter Speaker Bootcamp. Just sign up here and you’ll get a chance to listen live on Friday, March 7 at 10 am PST or listen later on demand.

What did you learn from the Oscars?  Please share in the comments below. 


Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /
  1. Great tips Liz on what we can learn from the Oscar speeches. Personally, I think the winners and many speakers in general should follow the 3 golden rules I’ve learned. #1 is to Keep It Simple Stuped. Many of the acceptance speeches had too much information. #2 is to “Stop talking before the audience stops listening”. Of course, this many times reverts back to #1. Quality (content) and Quantity (length) are extremely important. I have to say that John Travolta was the poster child for #3 which is to prepare and practice which of course he did not!

  2. Great advice, Peter.

    In case folks don’t know, John Travolta introduced Idina Menzel utterly wrong!

  3. I LOVED Matthew McConaughey’s speech! It’s literally the best speech I’ve ever heard any Celeb give. It was simple yet inspiring and engaging and he had the huevos to thank God for his talent. I could listen to speeches like that all day long. 🙂

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