How to Accept an Award

Accepting an Award With Class, Style and No “Humble”

In accepting an award, you need to be gracious, grateful and humble. (But for heaven’s sake, don’t use the words “humble” or “I’m humbled.” “Humbled” is one of those “groan” words — seriously overused.) You also must be as prepared as you can possibly be.

What do you say?

What you are looking for, is to deliver a warm, personal story that acknowledges and thanks all the main players in your success or achievement. Ideally, something about you, something about the object of the achievement; and something about the people who got you there – and of course, acknowledgment of the sponsors/givers of the award.

What should you include in your Acceptance Speech? Think about…

  • Who are all the players? (Stakeholders)
  • Who nominated you?
  • Who invited you to join this group/program/event or encouraged you to get involved in this project or event?
  • What is your connection to this group/industry? How do you feel about the people and the organisation’s goals?
  • Why are they giving you this award?

Your audience will not remember all the details of what you say, but they will remember the stories you tell. Include a memorable incident, something entertaining or touching, relevant to the reason you are standing there receiving the Award.

Inspiration From the Oscars

When Russell Crowe won an Oscar for The Gladiator (2000), he dedicated it to “everyone who has seen the downside of disadvantage.” Then, when he received the 2002 Golden Globe Award for A Beautiful Mind, he gave credit to the people on whose life the film was based, offering special thanks to “John and Alicia Nash, for living such an inspirational love story.”

If you have advance notice of the event, you can ask how long you are expected to speak. The shorter your time slot, the more you will need to practice! (A smaller gem takes more time to polish!)

When you start to speak, look directly at the audience. Never read your remarks. Or, if you need to read notes, learn to read as if you are not reading. You can walk up on stage with notes, but, ideally, they should consist of a few bullet points.

If you are to be introduced to the audience, write your own introduction and give it to the MC for the evening. With major events such as the Telstra Business Awards, your personal and company information may be well known to the Organisers and the MC for the event. You may have already supplied it, so it should be up to date. For other events, your information may be well known, but you may wish to emphasise certain aspects of your activities or your business. It is strongly recommended that you write your own introduction to fit the event and circumstances.

It’s better to have a few words rehearsed and ready, than to be caught speechless — or worse, say the wrong thing or too many words! A planned speech can help you avoid appearing over anxious. So be gracious. Be modest. But, be prepared!

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