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May 2024
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Toastmasters’ World Champion of Public Speaking Evaluates Oscar Speeches

Academy Award Article

Ramona J. Smith, Toastmasters’ 2018 World Champion of Public Speaking, sat down and watched the 91st Academy Awards ceremony. We asked her to evaluate the Oscar winners’ acceptance speeches.

Last night’s Oscar speeches were full of gratitude and emotion. I liked the way most of the winners acknowledged the Academy. I enjoyed the humor and sincerity in many of the speeches.

I appreciated how Ruth E. Carter used black note cards to read her speech. Reading from a phone or wrinkled white paper distracts viewers from the actual speech. Using profanity and speaking on religion also detracted from a few of the speeches. Bringing the entire team on stage is great recognition, however it is time consuming when each member wants to say a few words. Overall, the speeches were packed with thank you's and acknowledgments of teammates, family and friends.

While Hollywood’s best and brightest accepted awards for their hard work, I handed out awards of my own:

  • Best Speech: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
    Mahershala Ali was composed and humble. His speech was gracious and seamless as he mentioned "he captured the essence" of Dr. Shirley. He thanked the academy, his wife, daughter and his inspiring grandmother. The speech was passionate, organized and timely.
  • Most Memorable Speech: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
    Spike Lee leapt into the arms of Samuel L. Jackson before giving his speech. His purple suit with gold accessories made him stand out before he said a word. His speech was powerful, heartfelt and paid homage to his ancestors.
  • Most Buzzworthy Speech: Rayka Zehtabchi, Period. End of Sentence.
    "A film about menstruation won an Oscar!" "A period should end a sentence, not a girl's education." This taboo topic celebrated femininity and girl power. The speech was raw and emotional.
  • Most Sincere Speech: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
    "There are no waves, just the ocean. We are a part of the same ocean." Alfonso Cuarón thanked the country of Mexico. He oozed with sincerity and gratitude throughout the evening, but especially in this speech. This film and this win were for his people.
  • Most Humorous Speech: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
    Olivia's speech incorporated natural humor. She openly scoffed at the teleprompter when asked to wrap up her speech. She adoringly acknowledged Glenn Close saying, "This is not how I wanted it to be." She excitedly gasped when admiring Lady Gaga. It was naturally hilarious and the audience laughed a lot.

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