Accept Award

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Have you ever considered the impact of an effective acceptance speech? Too frequently we watch people accept an award who don’t have a single clue on what to say. I have seen recipients mumble “thanks” and race back to their seats, and I’ve seen others who blather on and on without saying anything of substance.

Being recognized for something we’ve done is a fantastic life event! And an appropriate acceptance speech should follow the award. It’s not that difficult to turn an acceptance speech into a memorable, appropriate short speech.

The two main purposes of an acceptance speech are to express gratitude and to help the audience feel good about having you chosen as the winner (even if the audience present didn’t actually have a say or a vote in the choice).

Here is my best advice on how to make that happen.

  • Assume you are going to win and prepare a speech ahead of time.
  • Just as in any speech, begin with something amazing. Don’t start by thanking the person who presented the award to you or talk about the organization’s goals (as recommended online by QuickBooks). Have a good “hook.” (See my prior post on hooks.)
  • Know the requirements for winning to help you draft the speech.
  • Comment on your “journey” to the winner’s circle by telling a story with examples of how “meeting the requirements” helped you grow or enabled you to help others or some other positive outcome.
  • Actually say “thank you.” Express positive feelings about the award without gushing.
  • If you are aware of other candidates, you may say something gracious such as, “It was an honor to be included with those who were considered for this award.”
  • If others truly helped you meet the requirements, you can thank individually by name if less than three people. But if it’s more than three, group them by saying something like, “I’m so fortunate to have a talented customer service team, and I want to thank them for their support in helping me win this award.”
  • Never ever say something like, “There were others who are certainly more qualified than I am.” Or “Gosh, I really don’t deserve this.” They picked YOU, so be grateful. Don’t lead them to wonder if they made a mistake!
  • Be genuine. Be humble AND realize you do deserve this!
  • When the audience applauds at the end of your speech, smile and nod once or twice as you mouth the words, “Thank you.”
  • Don’t lessen the award by cute curtseying or bowing. That smacks of insincerity.
  • Take your seat.

See, that wasn’t so hard.


Anderson Cooper tags this as the “best acceptance speech ever” from the 2013 Emmy awards show. Umm. No. Please don’t do this.