Communications Coach Has One Word of Advice for Oscar Nominees

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A national-award winning speaker, author and commentator on communication lays out what Academy Award nominees need to do to make their Oscar acceptance speech a winner.

Now that striking writers have returned to work in time for the Oscars, maybe they should do their bit to improve the winner's acceptance speeches.

Why do these highly talented people fail so miserably at this simple task? Executive communications coach, author and commentator, LeeAundra Temescu, is convinced it's because they simply don't take the time to prepare. "It's painfully obvious these people don't have a clue what to say when they're up there." The result: a rambling, mind-numbing recitation of thank yous that has long been one of the biggest complaints of Oscar viewers.

That many of these same tongue-tied artists make a living performing the spoken word is just one of the ironies of the situation. "I understand the pressure is intense and their nerves are probably raw." Temescu says, "But I've never understood why Oscar nominees, who spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on stylists, makeup artists, and clothes to present the perfect image for Oscar night, rarely, if ever, spend even a few minutes thinking about what they are going to say in front of the biggest audience many of them will ever have."

Why don't nominees prepare? Some are superstitious and feel that "preparing for a win" jinxes them. Adrian Brody admitted in his acceptance speech for the Best Actor Oscar in "The Pianist" (2002) that he didn't write a speech because "every time I've done that in the past I didn't win." Some may be too busy. But at Oscar time, the stakes are high and a good acceptance speech is remembered often times as much as the achievement that won it. Sometimes more.

At the 1997 Academy Awards after receiving the Oscar for Best Short Subject Documentary, Jessica Yu quipped, "What a thrill. You know you've entered new territory when you realize that your outfit cost more than your film." Temescu says that line got her worldwide attention and a spot in a national Coach purse ad campaign, "surely more exposure than even an Oscar-winning short-subject would've gotten her."

According to Temescu, the best acceptance speeches such as those given by Tom Hanks (Best Actor, "Philadelphia"), Jodie Foster (Best Actress, "Silence of the Lambs") and Steven Soderburg (Best Director: "Traffic") are "short, sincere and eloquent. They said something meaningful about the process of making movies and about the speaker themselves. Plus, you get bonus points for being funny. You can't do all those things off-the-cuff."

So her advice is simple: "Prepare. It's only 45 seconds, for heaven's sake! That's six or seven sentences, tops. It won't take that long to sketch out something really good. And the payoff could be huge."

And what about the laundry lists of names? Should winners jettison all the thank yous? "Never!" says Temescu. "A endless stream of thank yous will kill you but you must always, always thank your mom."

The Contrary Public Speaker is an executive communications coaching firm based in Los Angeles. Founded by national award winning public speaker, author and commentator, LeeAundra Temescu, it provides high-level presentation skills, in-the-moment training and executive presence for top-level managers and professionals.

Contact Information:
LeeAundra Temescu
The Contrary Public Speaker
(310) 940-1180

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