What We Can Learn From Awards Season Speeches

By: Lisa Arledge Powell
Mar. 1, 2020
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A version of this piece originally appeared on our PRsay blog

Following the Golden Globes, Grammys and Oscars, we’ve officially wrapped up awards season, where we heard countless celebrities say thank you, share emotional stories and offer messages of inspiration.

With so many acceptance speeches in such a small amount of time, what makes some stand out when others fade into the background? The answer is a consistent and impactful message, and one that advances a celebrity or movement’s brand.

But being strategic with messaging isn’t just for celebrities — it’s an important part of any PR campaign or organizational branding. 

Here are three important themes you can take from the best of awards show speeches:

1. Make your message timely and relevant. Memorable awards speeches don’t typically come out of thin air. Many of the best speeches serve as a comment on a particular current event or state of affairs, or a timely and significant message.

At this year’s Grammy Awards, held in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death, Lizzo used her moment onstage to preach a message of “connectivity” and using music to “reach out,” while Leonardo DiCaprio used his Oscars moment in 2016 to make a statement about climate change months after 2015 was noted as the warmest year on record.

2. Tell a character-based story. An organization can have an important and well-crafted message, but without a relatable character to draw in audiences, your story can lose its impact. 

3. Prepare, but be genuine. When it comes to making an impact in a few seconds, an overly rehearsed or scripted speech isn’t the way to go. If you have clients in need of interview coaching, then these successful awards-show speeches can be a great example of the middle ground between riffing and overpreparation.

Be sure to go through the basic steps with your clients or thought leaders: Keep your message simple but impactful, prepare your thoughts but stay conversational, and tailor your message to the audience that they’ll be addressing. — Lisa Arledge Powell 

photo credit: robin beck/afp