If you know you are to be awarded for some type of achievement in your job, in your community, or some association, you know you will have to give an acceptance speech. Have you ever watched the Grammy Awards and noticed that, when some people have won, they take the long walk to the front of the stage and then say, “Thank you very much,” and that’s it?
What did you think? Of course, you and everyone else thought that the person was ungrateful, but they were probably just unprepared and very nervous. On the other hand, have you watched when someone wins a Grammy and they get up on stage and ramble on for so long that they are actually cut off?
In an acceptance speech, there is a very fine line between being grateful for winning and rambling. Obviously, people are not interested in hearing your life’s story, nor do they want to listen to you thank everyone you have ever known in your life, but they do expect more than a simple thank-you. When accepting an award, you want to make a great impression, and this won’t be hard to do if you prepare yourself. Moreover, if you are not sure that you are the winner of the award, you still need to prepare just in case you do win.
First, watch your time. Rambling in front of a crowd that has awarded you is a sure way to turn them off, and in some ways the rambling will diminish the award itself. Make sure you know beforehand how long the acceptance speech is supposed to be. If they tell you no more than five to ten minutes, then make it last about five minutes. It is better to make a huge impact in a short amount of time than to fill up the entire ten minutes with rambling.
Secondly, stay on track. In other words, do not use the acceptance speech to score some points with some “top dog” in the audience. People are not stupid and this will surely come across loud and clear and make you seem less grateful for the award or recognition you have received.
Keep the speech powerful and memorable. You have a short amount of time, so you want to get in a powerful story that is personable, and if you use a story, it should be relevant to the speech and the award you are accepting. Show your gratitude for having been recognized in the first place and thank some of the key people who may have helped you to get to where you are now. But do not begin thanking everyone you have ever known as this will quickly get boring. Focus on thanking those that were directly involved in helping you to reach your goals.
At this point in your speech, make sure you tie in the name of the business or organization that helped you to reach the goals you are now being awarded for. You might give a brief amusing story about how you became involved with the organization or project. Make sure you are sentimental and appreciative of the award or recognition. Nothing is worse than someone getting an award for something and acting as if it does not matter. Make sure you express your gratitude.
Lastly, do not write down your entire acceptance speech and then read it, as this will be boring and seem very impersonal to the audience. It is fine to use index cards in order to jog your memory to what you want to say or share, but do not read verbatim from a speech you have written because this will only make you more nervous. Finally, make sure you practice your speech several times before the event. You may be a bit nervous, but if you have practiced beforehand, the words you want to say will come back to you.