At Sunday’s Oscars we got to see musical numbers, jokes, gorgeous gowns, and acceptance speeches. The Oscars are a great time to see the good and bad parts of public speaking by the Hollywood elite. We spoke with human interaction expert Blakely Thomas-Aguilar of iMeet, a cloud-based service that helps groups of people connect, share, and interact via HD video on any device. Here are some public speaking lessons we can take from Sunday’s speeches.
Have an agenda.
Though sometimes we criticize the stars with speeches that, by the sound of them, placed a lot of confidence in Oscar wins, we should actually take notes. On a show that clocked in at four hours, anyone that helped keep it moving should get another Oscar. One of those people who clearly memorized her speech (and has been it doing it all awards season) is Anne Hathaway.
“Anne was very composed on stage, and knew exactly who to thank and why,” says Thomas-Aguilar.
Having a list of topics you want to cover and ideas you want to convey in your presentation is key, she says, especially when you’re only going to get one chance. Be sure to prioritize, in case you won’t be able to say everything you want.
Inject a little humor, if it’s appropriate.
Though Daniel Day-Lewis takes on the most dramatic of roles and is known for his very disciplined work ethic, his acceptance speech was delightfully light-hearted. The joke about him originally wanting to play Margaret Thatcher was well-delivered. And at four hours in, we all needed a joke.
Keep it short and sweet.
“In real life, there’s rarely an orchestra to start drowning you out when your speech takes too long. That’s all the more reason to stay concise,” says Thomas-Aguilar.
Who struggled? The team from Life of Pi, who won for Best Visual Effects, struggled to get all their thank-yous in before the ominous Jaws theme began drowning them out. Before they could finish, their mics were cut off.
Drop some names.
Thomas-Aguilar says, “What’s in a name? Way more when it’s properly dropped. Being friends with everyone in the room means being strategic about whom to thank and who’ll star in your humble-brag anecdote: ‘Steven [Spielberg] didn’t have to persuade me to play Lincoln, but I had to persuade him that if I was going to do it perhaps Lincoln shouldn’t be a musical.’”
Think about collaborations you want to flag up and top grossing talent you want to be associated with. They’ll appreciate the shout-out and everyone else will know that working with you can make them a star too. Who did it best? Daniel Day Lewis, Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Yes, most people at the Oscars look fabulous, but one of the women who won for best makeup and hairstyling for Les Miserables had a hairstyle that looked like she didn’t brush it and then stuck a pencil in it. Not everyone can look like Charlize Theron, but if you are winning an award for your craft, and it happens to be hairstyling, you may at least want to look like you have a reason for winning! This is like making a speech on why it’s important to wear power suits, and deliver it while wearing overalls.