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Oscar Acceptance Speeches Are Like Public Speaking 101—And Class Is In Session

We asked a speech coach to watch the Oscars with us, and here’s what we learned.

Oscar Acceptance Speeches Are Like Public Speaking 101--And Class Is In Session
[Photo: Adam Taylor, courtesy of ABC]

"… and the Oscar goes to …"

There’s something about that phrase that brings out the best or worst in the person whose name fills in that breathless blank—an acceptance speech is on the horizon and it’s either going to be an absolute "do" or dear- God-please "don’t" of public speaking.

With millions of people watching at home, a theater full of colleagues, bright lights, and a sea of camera all trained on who’s standing in front of the mic, it’s a moment where some show grace under fire and others are just engulfed in flames.

But there’s much to learn either way that can be applied to far less-glitzy affairs like conferences or meetings, so we brought in New York Speech Coaching’s John Armstrong to break down the best Oscar speeches and presenters of the night.