Secrets To Be A Better Speaker Like Oscar Winners Michelle Yeoh And Jamie Lee Curtis


You might not get to give an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, but you might get a moment in the spotlight accepting an award.

If you want to attract right-fit clients, it pays to be a better speaker. This includes giving speeches, presenting at workshops or introducing yourself at networking events.

So, who got it right at the 95th Academy Awards, held March 12, 2023? I went to a former Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking, Ed Tate, for his take.

Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders.

Tate said the basic steps of a great acceptance speech, according to Toastmasters International, are:

1. Express genuine gratitude.

2. Recognize those who helped you to succeed.

“I’d add a third requirement: make it memorable,” says Tate.

Tate won what he calls the “American Idol of Public Speaking,” becoming the 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking, Toastmasters International’s most prestigious. Since 1998 his company, Ed Tate & Associates, has helped organizations win high-stakes business presentations.

I spoke with Tate over the phone right after the 2023 Oscars ceremony and he gave me these speaking secrets based on the acceptance speeches:

Use Anaphora. “Jamie Lee Curtis, Best Supporting Actress for Everything Everywhere All At Once, used a rhetorical device called anaphora,” said Tate. “This is the repetition of a phrase, like Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream.’”

Tate referred to this sequence in her acceptance speech:

“We just won an Oscar,” as she thanked the cast of the movie.

“We just won an Oscar,” as she thanked her family and friends.

“We just won an Oscar,” as she thanked supporters of her career.

And to her late mother and father, Hollywood legends Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, both Oscar nominees, she said: “I won an Oscar.”

Tell a short story about your struggle, not your success. “Regarding Ke Huy Quan, Best Supporting Actor for Everything Everywhere All At Once, before the Oscars, I had never heard of him,” said Tate. “By the time he was done, I was rooting for him and wanted to see his movie. He told a story of spending a year on a boat and living in a refugee camp. He said: ‘This is the American dream. Keep your dreams alive.’ He won me over in less than two minutes.”

Have a tweetable repeatable line. Tate said: “Best Actress Michelle Yeoh from Everything Everywhere All At Once had the line of the night: ‘Ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are past your prime.’ That was memorable and remarkable.”

Share wisdom. “Sarah Polley, Best Adapted Screenplay for Women Talking, made me laugh by apologizing for putting the words ‘Women’ and ‘Talking’ so close together,” said Tate. “And then she ended with the film’s last words: ‘Your story will be different from ours.’ As a father of a daughter, I wanted to see the movie.”

For those who want to improve their speaking techniques, Toastmasters International is a worldwide nonprofit educational organization that helps individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. The organization’s membership exceeds 280,000 in more than 14,700 clubs in 144 countries.

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