Colin Firth’s Oscar acceptance speech
What a great occasion, the 2011 Oscars Award Ceremony, attended by the great and the good and there standing out like a varicose vein in winter, “The King’s Speech“.
Best film, best director, best original screenplay and of course best actor, Mr Colin Firth.
From Darcy’s wet shirted enticement to stirrings in his abdomen… does this man have no self control?
But enough talk of his peccadilloes let’s take a look at Colin Firth’s acceptance speech.
I don’t know what you think, but I loved it. This is my take on his speech:
- Humorous opening – “I have a feeling my career has just peaked” – nice easy start to his speech, relaxes the audience and the laughter relaxes him.
- Humility – “I’m going to be brief with my gratitude for being on this extraordinary list of nominees” – even hugely successful movie stars need humility.
- Gave thanks – “My deepest thanks to the academy” – one of the main purposes of an acceptance speech is to give thanks.
- Humour throughout – “Harvey who took me on twenty years ago… when I was a mere child sensation” – a smattering of humour throughout keeps the audience with you.
- One serious point to give the speech focus – “David Seidler whose own struggles have given very many people the benefits of his beautiful voice” – even a humorous speech needs one serious point or the speech becomes a piece of fluff.
- Just enough emotion – he stays in control but there is just a hint that his voice is on the verge of cracking.
- Spoke to the time he was given – the winners have obviously been told to be brief… and he is. It’s just good manners to stick to the time you have been given.
- Finished by going back to the beginning – “And now if you’ll all excuse me, I have some impulses I have to attend to back stage” – audiences love closure, finishing by going back to the beginning is a great way of providing closure and signalling that you have finished.
I’m not saying it was a perfect speech, there were a few umms and ahhhs and he kept looking down at the award… but eh, I enjoyed it. Take a look at the video below and see what you think.
This is the best quality video I could find, my apologies for the sound and picture quality.
Did you notice how quiet the audience were?
Silence can mean boredom, and I should know, but on this occasion the audience are quiet because they are listening intently to what Colin Firth has to say. They want to hear more.
Colin has both good content and delivery, but he has something else that lifts his speech… occasion.
Content delivery and…. occasion
In my last post I looked at Content and Delivery but both are secondary to the occasion.
If you look at the truly great speeches, they were all delivered at times of heightened emotion or emotional turmoil.
- Abraham Lincoln – “Four score and seven years ago our fathers…”
- Winston Churchill – “We shall fight them on the beaches…”
- Martin Luther King – “I have a dream that one day this nation…”
- John F Kennedy – “Ask not what your country can do for you…”
- Earl Spencer – “I stand before you today the representative of a family in grief…”
Five classic speeches delivered on occasions of high emotion and I defy anyone to read them… and not be moved.
“Churchill’s speech after the military disaster that led to the evacuation of the British Army from Europe at Dunkirk… is a great speech… not only was the prime minister’s deep throated delivery forcefully defiant in a hushed Parliament, and broadcast to the world, but the overriding reason was the historic occasion: at that moment tyranny was on the verge of victory, and democracy’s main weapon was Churchill’s rallying voice.”
Great Speeches in History – William Safire
The Oscars may not have the gravitas of the occasions above, but there is plenty of emotion flying around. As Paul Hogan points out in his 3G’s speech… “The atmosphere is pure electricity.”
Your speeches, your great occasions
What are your great occasions, your occasions of heightened emotion?
You may never have to deliver a “Fight them on the beaches” speech, but there will be times when you can make a difference.
- Family events – christenings, weddings, funerals.
- Work related – job interviews, presentations.
- Social – your speeches at the Speakers Club you’ve just joined.
- Blogging – videos, guest posts.
I know what you’re going to say… these aren’t great occasions. Well they are to you so perhaps you should treat everything you write or perform, as though it was your Gettysburg Address, just in case.
Time to have your say
What did you think of Colin Firth’s acceptance speech?
What great speeches have you heard and what was the occasion?
Do you deliver your speeches as though every occasion was a great occasion?
Do you write your blog posts as though each one is a historical gem?
Let me have your thoughts on anything and everything in the comments below – look forward to hearing from you.
My thanks and gratitude to:
Period Dramas for the Colin Firth thumbnail