And the winner is … YOU!
It’s time to arrange your face into a look of perplexed wonderment. Smile, gasp, shake your head. Whisper things like: ‘Who me? Little old me?’ Hug everybody around you, then hug them again.
But don’t take too long because you’ve got to get yourself (along with your own bodyweight in bespoke silk tailoring) up to the podium.
Now square up to that ballroom full of faces and imagine a few million more watching you on TV. And a few billion others who’ll watch the You Tube clip in the years to come if you blow it. Your big moment has arrived and if you’re going to survive it in style, you need a few acceptance speech tips.
Follow our 10 top tips for a winning winner’s speech:
- Learn your lines. A scrappy piece of paper held in a shaky hand just looks amateurish. You’re A-list now, and you’ve got to act the part. Decide what you’re going to say well in advance of the ceremony, learn it by heart, then make it sound as though you’re speaking off the cuff. You work in showbiz after all, so learning a few lines of dialogue shouldn’t be too hard.
- Slow down. Not everybody can pull off Tarantino-style patter. Speak more slowly than feels natural, pause between sentences and give your audience a chance to digest what you’ve said. This is your moment of glory. Don’t waste it!
- Keep things brief. Avoid long paragraphs in favour of short, punchy sentences and leave your audience wanting more. But…
- Don’t be intimidated by the 45-second rule. Ceremony organisers will try playing music to get you off the stage. Ignore them. This is the one time when you have every right to be a diva. Channel the words of Julia
Roberts, who refused to get off the stage after winning her Oscar in 2000: “A girl’s got to have her moment. Everybody tries to get me to shut up. It didn’t work with my parents and it didn’t work now.” Well ok, don’t go that far, but over-running by seconds isn’t going to harm anyone.
- It’s not all about you. Admittedly, there’s nothing worse than an over-gracious speech, reeling off a long list of thank-yous. But there’s also something insufferable about the winner who forgets to credit anybody else. You wouldn’t have won without the work of dozens of other people. So, go on, name check a few of them. But try not to run through them like a shopping list.
- Don’t drag politics into it. You haven’t brought about peace in the Middle East. You don’t work for the UN. You’re not even competing to be Miss World. You are in showbiz and your job is to entertain. This isn’t the place to rant about your beliefs or causes, no matter how important they are to you.
- Keep gushing in check. It’s fine to get a bit carried away – you’re excited and overwhelmed after all. But if you’re going to gush, keep things lighthearted. Cuba Gooding Jr got away with shouting manic ‘I love yous’ to various celebrities in 1997, but only because he was funny too.
- Gulp back those tears. Few of us can remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s weepy acceptance speech without wincing. A few, well-placed snuffles are fine, but don’t waste your big moment – or your make-up – with a sobbing fit. You want people to remember what you say, after all.
- Go easy on the insults. This is not the time to offend your friends and colleagues. And, unless you’re Ricky Gervais, chances are it will backfire. In fact, even if you are Ricky Gervais, chances are it will backfire.
- Laugh at yourself. It’s a brilliant way to win over the audience and we Brits tend to excel at it. Colin Firth’s controlled and witty speech at last year’s Oscars is a masterclass in the art of confident self-deprecation.
The winner takes it all
Most great acceptance speeches feature a witty one-liner. Here are five classics:
Thank you very much. That makes up for the strip-search (Woody Allen)
I guess this proves there are as many nuts in the Academy as anywhere else (Jack Nicholson)
Gee, this isn’t like I imagined it would be in the bathtub (Dianne Wiest)
This is one night I wish I smoked and drank (Grace Kelly)
Could you double check the envelope? (Martin Scorsese)