If you’ve entered for an award, you’ll keep your fingers crossed until the short list is announced.  If you’re on it you’ll almost certainly want to celebrate – that’s a real achievement.  But what happens when you attend the awards presentation?  Are you ready to win? 

In most cases you have time to prepare your awards entry, you can draft and revise it right up to the deadline for submission, but if it’s your name that’s announced on the night are you prepared to say a few words? 

We’ve all seen Oscar winners who ramble on at length and thank everyone on the planet, also those who say almost nothing (often despite being talented actors) and clearly haven’t been prepared for the possibility of winning.  You don’t want to be either of those people! 

Preparing a short speech is not egocentric, it’s professional. 

Start with due diligence 

Find out from the organisers about the plan for the evening. 

  • What are their expectations of the winners?  
  • Will you be expected to say more than ‘thank you’? 
  • How long have they allowed for winners to speak? 
  • Do they have any advice if you should be lucky enough to win? 

Doing this means that you know whether they expect the winners to talk for one minute or three minutes – and there’s a big difference. 

Avoid boring 

Of course, you want to thank your team for their contribution to winning the award, but you don’t need to name everyone.  Acceptance speeches can quickly become routine with long lists so make sure yours is different. 

  • Why did you enter?   
  • What will winning mean to your company? 
  • What does winning mean to you personally? 

Speak from the heart and don’t use clichés.  The more human you appear and the more interesting your presentation, the better chance you’ll have of being mentioned in the press reports later (more positive promotion for your business!) 

Notes or not? 

Many people think notes show arrogance, but no notes and nerves can wipe the memory.  An index card with your three key points should be enough to ensure you don’t miss anything or anybody out. 

Do practise, run through what you want to say so that you don’t open your mouth and say “Errrr, ummm, just want to say a few words …”  That’s probably long enough for most of your audience to disengage – especially if you’re towards the end of the presentations.  You want to open your mouth and say something that will capture their attention. 

Keep it crisp, short and light – and well done!