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Oprah Rocks – 3 Lessons for All Presentations

by | Jan 9, 2018

“Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech should be required viewing” writes the Dallas Morning News this morning in their report on the 2018 Golden Globes awards show on 1.7.18.

I agree.

Oprah’s presentation as she accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award works on all levels – emotionally, mentally and physically.

For you, as business leaders and decision makers, use these three strategies modeled by Oprah to give your meaningful messages to your team, your board, and your investors (and even your kids).

POWERFUL BEGINNING. Oprah does not start by thanking people or, even worse, mumbling with surprise. She begins with,

“In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier.” Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black, and I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people’s houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation in Sidney’s performance in “Lilies of the Field”: ‘Amen, amen, amen, amen.’”

Start your messages with a strong opener. A story, a relevant quote, a stunning statistic… anything other than the norm.

STRONG VOICE. Oprah’s voice is strong throughout. But at the end she increases her volume as she says,

I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.”

Oprah maintains this increased volume till the end of her acceptance speech. She projects passion, heft and gravitas. The audience reacts with their third standing ovation, tears and applause.

Your takeaway – do not be afraid to vary your pitch and volume. Practice being quiet to loud to quiet, and fast to slow to fast to pausing.

STRATEGIC MESSAGING. You have heard me talk about how to make your message stick. Reread my blog on Velcro. Oprah uses Velcro throughout – great stories, examples and just enough details. But what really impresses me is her ability to intertwine the evening’s themes, “me too” and “their time is up” throughout her speech. With grace and poise Oprah tells her story while also staying relevant to the mood in the room.

For you – if you are speaking at an event that has a theme – use it! “Mirrors. Personal & Professional Reflections” is the theme of an upcoming conference that I will be speaking at. Using Oprah as my model I will incorporate this theme in my messaging.

Watch Oprah. Look not only at what she says but how she says it. All I can add here is, “Amen, amen, amen.”


PS: Back to my regularly scheduled blog on the elephants next week!

© 123RF Stock Photo

© Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with decision makers on how to speak with gravitas. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Karen also speaks about her cousin, Albert Einstein, in a message about hope, resilience and brassieres.

Read more at www.SpeakForYourself.com/blog.



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