Last night, in watching the Golden Globes, I realized how few people are able to make a proper awards speech. I've personally never made such a speech, but I'm holding out hope that in the future I will. If I do, here are a few of the tips that I plan to follow.
1. Last Words
I realize that if you're making an awards speech, unless a piece of the set falls on you, the words you speak will not be your last. That being said, I feel that you should treat an awards speech as if it's the last speech you'll ever make in public. Will the last words you ever utter be a hurried attempt to remember everyone who possibly influenced your performance? I hope not. Keep that mindset and your speech will already be headed in the right direction.
What percent of your speech should you dedicate to “thank yous?" Probably about 10 percent or less, in my opinion. I think that it's amazing to receive acknowledgement on national television and I'm sure that the people who are thanked carry that appreciation with them for years and years. But if you're stuffing those names into a laundry list of people who helped, I think it diminishes the acknowledgement and the speech. Save 10 percent for thank yous. If it's a 30 second speech, that's six seconds folks. Thank your spouse, your director, your cast, one special person and move on.
3. A Message
I think that the bulk of an awards speech should be a message that you're trying to convey. One of the best speeches I've ever seen was Marketa Irglova's speech at the 2008 Academy Awards. She didn't thank anyone in particular and concentrated on the message. She preached a message of hope and how the award wasn't just for her but for independent musicians everywhere. I thought it was a beautiful sentiment and that it was the type of message that all speeches should strive for. Instead of simply thanking friends and crew members, why not inspire a new generation of them instead? You can also take the Sasha Baron Cohen 2007 Golden Globes approach and go for the jugular of the comedy instead. His awards speech killed and it was because he didn't compromise and stayed on message.
4. A Closer
Finally, it's best to end your speech with a strong closing line before your final thank you. This extremely important line is your final word to your target demographic. If you're a director, make it about directing. If you're an actor, make it about acting and how important it is to you and the world. Your closer should be your world philosophy in a nutshell. This is your last chance to have your speech remember. Make it happen before the orchestra cuts you off!
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.