Six Steps to a Gracious Speech of Acceptance


Accept the Responsibilities of Accepting an Award

A well-received Speech of Acceptance is a humble acknowledgement of all those who specifically helped the recipient achieve the results that earned him, her or them the award and those whose efforts make the grating of an award possible at all.  In addition, it makes clear that the award-winner understands that his or her or their work is part of a larger contribution to a field, industry or medium.  A well-crafted Speech of Acceptance sends a clear message to the audience as well as the grantors of the award that their recipient was indeed the right selection. S/he comes off as humble, gracious and appreciative of the opportunity for his or her role in the granting institution’s efforts, mission and identity.

Three Things about Awards That You Need to Know

  1. Yes, candidates for an award do prepare, polish and practice Speeches of Acceptance even though they recognize that they may not win.
  2. Yes, typically the granting organization does alert the winner in advance of the ceremony specifically so that s/he may prepare a proper Speech of Acceptance.
  3. No, do not pretend at the podium that you are surprised to win if you did in fact know in advance that you would be receiving the award!


Six Steps to a Stellar Speech of Acceptance

T – Tell the person who actually called you up to the podium “thank you” and do so while mentioning his or her name clearly and upon taking the microphone.

H – Have handy the names of the decision-makers who selected you for the prize and the story of the person or event in whose name the award is given.

A – Articulate why you feel a special or personal connection to this particular award in addition to the work you did to earn it.

N – Note the mission of the organization and your work’s direct connection to it or extension of it.

K – Keep the momentum going with a quotation, proverb, or adage that captures the spirit of the granting organization or the person or event for which the prize was named.

S – Specify and express appreciation to the individuals or groups of people who were instrumental in facilitating the work that earned you the award and be clear about the nature of the support they provided.

The ABCs of Accepting an Award

Avoid hyperbole such as, “I could never have imagined I’d win this ….”  If you are a candidate, you do indeed know in advance that there is a chance that you may win.

Be brief.  Odds are you will be accepting the award during a program or banquet with items on the agenda so your part at the podium should be expeditious and your speech succinct.

Carry the award proudly back to your chair after your acceptance speech.  People are still watching, photographing and congratulating you after you leave the microphone.


Lisa Bernard is a twenty-five year veteran of the public speaking industry with over 10,000 hours of platform addresses, workshops and presentation skills coaching.  She has prepared speakers from Hartford to Hong Kong for communication challenges from interviews to media spots, meetings and keynotes.  Lisa can be reached at and (203) 293-4741 and found on the web at and




And the Winner is …

And the Winner is …

Protocol & Polish for the Proper Presentation of an Award

From the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in amateur and professional sports to the Oscar in Hollywood, awards are made to acknowledge the achievements by an individual or group of persons working together and achieving extraordinary results on one project over a particular period of time.  Whether the award is made locally to the Father of the Year at one’s community center or made to a person selected from world-wide pool of competitors for a Nobel Prize, speeches that announce the award recipients are reflective, enthusiastic and timely as they recall the mission of the granting institution, the valued attributes of the winner and the highlights of the award cycle.

Practical Considerations for a Polished Award Ceremony

Practically speaking, consider whether you and the granting organization want or need to alert the award-winner in advance of the ceremony.   If so, then do consider whether or not s/he will be obliged to deliver a Speech of Acceptance.  If the awards ceremony calls for Speeches of Acceptance, do alert your winner in advance and with sufficient time prior to the event so that s/he has time to properly prepare.  Realize that for him or her, there is the need to think over the often numerous people who facilitated the work or results for which the award is given as well as to complete a review of the organization, it’s history and mission, past recipients, and the person(s) in whose memory the prize may be given.  Do not assume that your award recipient will know the protocol of your awards ceremony or whether s/he knows how to prepare a Speech of Acceptance.  S/he may need guidance and information from you.  Make yourself available to help in these inquiries so that the Speech of Acceptance complements your presentation of the award and completes the process with style and sophistication.

Protocol for Presenting an Award

A – Articulate the meaning and importance of the award to be made.  Cite the founding circumstances including the history of the events and the people or groups involved. 

W – Witness for the audience the evolution in the award, its recipients throughout time and the impact of both.

A – Acknowledge any accommodations or special contributions from hosts, volunteers, board members, or those outside the organization that worked to make the award or the ceremony possible and more meaningful.

R –  Recall the year or cycle in which the recipient’s work or contribution was performed and the highlights or special circumstance found in the cycles that have impacted the selection process or the work of the award recipient.  This may be the anniversary of the founding of the award-making organization or an event such as 9/11. 

D –  Delineate the attributes and actions of recipient in the context of how this individual or team of individuals embodies the values and spirit of the award and further the mission of the granting institution.  Direct the award recipient(s) and the attention of the audience to the podium for the presentation of the award. 

Lisa Bernard is the owner of Lisa Bernard’s Word of Mouth, Inc., a full-service communications firm based in Westport, CT.  She has prepared both award and acceptance speeches and coached both emcees and prize winners on the process and delivery of ceremonial speeches.  Proper attention to these remarks can make all the difference in whether an awards banquet becomes monotonous or maintains momentum throughout. Lisa can be reached for coaching, consultations and speech-crafting at (203) 846-6115 or or found on the web at