Against my better judgment, I recently endured watching a self-serving celebrity award show. The people receiving the awards were mostly unremarkable, except for one big fat talent. In other words, I’m just like them, except for the talent part. And I’ll wager – although I usually frown on such things – that you probably have a talent that just hasn’t propelled you yet to stardom. Well, no one said life is fair.
After hearing the pompous acceptance speeches, I thought it would be an enriching experience to create one of my own, sans pomp. I suggest you write one as well. It just might be the pick-me-up you need. Crafting the speech will give you an opportunity to focus on your strengths and admirable qualities. In my case, I had to pretend a bit. That’s OK, though. You can pretend too, if you want. In fact, being well-versed in psychology (I’m not really, but see how I’m getting into the pretending thing?), I would say the things you choose to pretend you’re good at are likely the ones you are good at.
Like, say, shot-putting. I’m good at that. No, that’s a bad example, since I’ve never actually done it. And I’m not sure that it isn’t putting-shot instead of shot-putting. Come to think of it, you more or less throw the thing instead of putting it somewhere. I suppose when the track and field meet is over, the crew puts the shots or shot balls, or whatever they are, somewhere. But that’s not the part you get medals for. In fact, at this particular juncture, I think it’s best we just move on. See how good I am at this? Surely there’s an award for me right around the corner, probably lurking among the discarded shot balls.
One tricky aspect of the acceptance speech is getting the proper balance of humility and self-assurance. There must never be outright bragging; perhaps just a dash of gratitude, a pinch of pride, and a dab of swash, without the buckle. Under no circumstances should there be boasting. Also avoid crowing, or any other bird impressions. Blustering must be totally absent, along with singing one’s own praises, especially for a music award. For body language, a smidgin of swagger is acceptable, but it must never devolve into strutting, or getting on with your bad self.
Getting the speech off to a good start is key. A bang-up beginning will set the tone for the speech, and maybe the entire day, and if your future biographer is listening, the rest of your life and generations to come. On the other hand, if you’re like me, no one will be listening, except maybe your cats, and they are notoriously tough critics. If so, that’s all right – remember, the goal is to make us feel good about ourselves. We want to recognize and appreciate our strengths. We want to bring a smile to our faces. As in so many aspects of modern life, veracity is secondary.
Let’s say I begin in a manner which is, if not entirely humble, certainly west of smug. Or would it be south? Confound it, where’s a GPS when you need it? Regardless, “I want to thank so many people” is a good opening gambit. It’s irrelevant who you thank, as long as you have a tear in your eye when you say it.
To avoid hurting feelings, you should be vague. A recommended approach is, “I could never have done this without the support of some special people – and you know who you are.” Then look around the room, as well as blankly out into space. Bam! You’ve got it covered.
No “how to” on acceptance speeches would be complete without a word on fashion and hair. We’ve all seen the celebs parading around the award stage looking like they just arrived from another galaxy, often involving a crash landing. You might be thinking you want to emulate them. Here’s the word: Don’t. I recommend you try to look like you originated in this galaxy, even if it isn’t so.
I trust I have provided sufficient motivation and guidance for you to begin cobbling your own acceptance speech. You’ll feel better about yourself, which we all need.
One final tip: Carry the speech with you at all times. Be ready to launch into it whenever it seems appropriate. Lay that jive on as many folks as possible. After all, we never know when life might blindside us with a huge surprise. And who’s to say that just once it might not be a pleasant one? People used to get surprised all the time in the previous century, on a show called “This is Your Life.” Then everyone would talk about how great they were. Hey, it could happen to you.
When you least expect it, you’re elected, you’re the star today. Smile! You’re on… Never mind, that was a different show.