September 17, 2007

Emmys speeches

Watching the Emmys last night, I heard several kinds of speeches. Some were well-constructed, while others were a series of "ums" and awkward pauses. Some were emotional while others were flat. Some were funny while others were dull.

What I notice this morning is that, whether or not a speech was well-constructed, the ones I remember today were the emotional ones, the ones where I felt connected to the winner, and the ones where the winner was unmistakably "keeping it real."

Sally Field gave a passionate speech tinged with anti-war sentiment, getting herself bleeped in the process. Helen Mirren taunted the sound booth, daring them to start the dramatic cut-off music before she was ready to leave the stage. Katherine Heigl, as an award presenter, corrected the pronunciation of her name (I can so relate) and then, when she won an award, thanked the presenters for getting it right.

Observational humor made me laugh a number of times, as when James Spader commented, "I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob, and they're all sitting right over there," referring to his win for best actor in a drama series over "The Sopranos" James Gandolfini.

Do you remember the well-organized speeches or the ones that fire you up? I'm not saying that your presentations shouldn't be carefully organized and structured. But if that's all you've got going for you, the audience will forget you as soon as they walk out the door.

Take a lesson from the successful acceptance speeches at an awards show. Think of the ones you remember the next day and ask yourself why you remember them. Try to put your own personality, pizazz and style of humor into your presentation and see if you don't come out to be more memorable at the end.

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