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Thank You Speeches – What the Oscar Acceptance Speeches Can Teach Us about Good Presentations



I did not watch the Oscars last night.  My latent jealousy of never pursuing my promising yet totally imaginary acting career makes it too painful.  But flipping back and forth between The Apprentice and the Oscars, I did pause to see Meryl Streep win for best actress and listen to her acceptance speech.

Watching her acceptance speech made me naturally draw comparisons between a great acceptance speech and a great presentations.  Here’s what I observed from Meryl’s speech that translates to our business presentations.


Connect Emotionally

Meryl thanked her husband and it didn’t seem like acting when she expressed her appreciation for his support.  She seemed vulnerable and therefore even more likable.  When you connect emotionally with a business audience, they will like you better too!

Use Humor

She shot off a couple of quips giving the audience a chance to laugh.  Who among your business audiences wouldn’t appreciate an opportunity to laugh?!

Express What the Audience May Be Thinking

Meryl Streep is my favorite actress of all times and I do see how anyone could not appreciate one of her performances.  But never the less, there probably were a few people in TV land who thought “oh not her again.”  By calling out that sentiment, even those pulling for a different actress had to at least smile a little that she’d captured their sentiment.

The same is true of your business audiences.  If you can express what an audience may already be thinking, they’ll appreciate that you are in tune with them and you’ll be able to reach them where they’re at.  This is a great way to better connect with your audience.


Meryl didn’t seem full of herself.  She has to know that she’s an amazing actress but she doesn’t assume she should win and appreciates the recognition.

When you’re humble with your audience, when you don’t assume you’re all that in your industry, it makes you more likable to your audiences too.


Thanking the make up artist Meryl had worked with all those years and by expressing her love of the friendships she has with her colleagues, she became a real person with real feelings.  It reminded me of the appreciation I see expressed in members of my profession who aren’t famous on the big screen but are famous among our circles.  She seemed extremely authentic in her expressions.

When you’re authentic with your audiences by thanking members of your team, by sincerely expressing appreciation for those who’ve helped you in your industry, your audience will be reminded of their relationship and identify with the real you.


Meryl kept the speech short and sweet.  Isn’t that what our business audiences want to?!

What Did I Miss?

What else do you think makes a good acceptance speech?  What else can we learn from an Oscars acceptance speech that will make us better business speakers?  Add your thoughts in the comments below!