This post is about a professional speakers view on giving an acceptance speech.
A few days ago I was given an award by the Global Speakers Federation. The award was the “International Ambassadors Award” and it was given out at the gala dinner of the Global Speaker Summit.
In the room was a couple of hundred professional speakers and I got the award due to my service to the global professional speaking community.
I did not know I was going to get the award (I had actually booked a ticket home earlier in the day and had planned to skip the gala dinner when someone suggested that I should stay around as there was an award given out and I might have a chance to get it…) So one hour before the award dinner I stood in the shower and went over a few different messages that I could deliver as a thank you.
But – and here is my point – I did not prepare what I was going to say. I only went over the main message that I wanted to get across (and I picked three different main messages, and decided not to decide which one of the three I would deliver until I would actually stand up there on the stage if I won.)
The three options where:
a) A provocative speech about working more closely together.
b) A speech about the need to attend more conventions (using the speech to push the Asia Professional Speakers Convention that I am in charge of this year 😉
c) A speech about how I look at helping other speakers.
I went to the gala dinner and my name was called. I was the winner.
When I was on stage I asked Shirley Taylor (who gave out the award) if I was supposed to give a speech and when she said “yes” I took a few seconds to think about which of the three messages I felt most like communicating right there in that moment.
In the video you can see which one I selected.
The reason I do not think an acceptance speech should be pre-prepeared and memorised is that I think the “thank you” should be genuine and authentic.
We would never pre-prepare a thank you when someone gives us a birthday present or a Christmas present – if we did it would feel un-authentic.
And to me an award is a present.
And when you say “thank you” for an award the “thank you” should feel like it comes un-cencored from the heart.
Look at this video with the “best acceptance speeches from the Oscars” and you will understand what I mean. The best ones are the spontaneous ones where the speaker knows what he/she wants to say, but the delivery is genuine, in the moment and real.
I hope you get the same feeling when you watch my speech (but please do not compare it to Oscar winning speeches ;-D.
There is actually a time in my speech where I totally lose my train of thought and literally do not know what to say next, but then I look out at the room and come up with the line “When I look out of this room I do not see colleagues, I definitely do not see competitors, I do not see brothers or sisters – I see twins. You are me – I see a piece of me in you.”
A beautiful line I think, and a line that came from the heart. Not from memory.
If you are preparing an acceptance speech prepare what you want to communicate, but not what you are going to say. Then go up and speak from your heart.
Say thank you like you mean it.
Here is the speech: