It can be very satisfying and
gratifying to receive an award from friends or peers. While we are excited and
honoured to be acknowledged it can be a challenge to figure out what to say
when accepting the award.
Accepting an award graciously requires some thought and preparation. Here are
three ingredients that every acceptance speech should include:
- Gratitude. Always thank
the one or two people who played a major role in your achievement. For
example, if you were presented with a "Volunteer of the Year"
award you could say "One person is responsible for my efforts....
Mary Jones was the person who convinced me how valuable this agency was
and then was always there to thank me and support me as I performed
routine tasks and took on more challenging one. Her attention and praise
kept me "coming back".
If more than two people were
helpful, don't address each my name. A long list of names quickly becomes
boring. Instead issue a general acknowledgment and later thank each person
privately. Consider the feelings of those giving you the award. They gave to
award to you not to your friends.
- Recognition. Recognize the
organization giving the award. Mention briefly about its work and its
importance to others and to you. For example "This museum is an
important part of our community. It helps children learn about the past
and enables them to prepare for the future. Members of the museum staff,
it is your actions and efforts that make this happen.
- Sincerity. The best thanks
an organization can receive is an honest and unexaggerated expression of
gratitude. Don't gush, but don't be reluctant to convey your own feelings,
briefly stated, regarding your appreciation of the award and all that it
represents. Each person possesses a style uniquely his or her own, your
objective is to succinctly communicate the genuine pleasure you take in
In most cases an acceptance speech should be brief, no more than one or two
minutes. However, in some circumstances of major awards, when the recipient is
announced before the presentation ceremony, the recipient may be expected to
deliver an extended speech of five or ten minutes. If this is the case you can
expand your acceptance to include a few anecdotes and to discuss your ideas
for the future of the organization. If you aren't sure of what is expected
check with someone associated with the organization presenting the award to
If you would like to see the wording
of some major acceptance speeches do a search on the Internet for
"acceptance speeches" and you will find many speeches from prize
winners such as Nobel Laureates, etc.
Mind Your Manners
When accepting an award never say
"I don't really deserve this". Such remarks question the judgment of
the organization presenting the award. Always remember to be modest and
dignified. Don't review everything you did to achieve the award. Most people
already know about your efforts and why you are worthy of the award.
When the award presenter announces
your name, approach the stage or rise and step toward him or her if you are
already on the stage. If you approach from the audience, come forward
promptly, but don't rush or eagerly bound forward. On stage, stand near the
presenter but avoid blocking the award. Do not reach for the award until the
presenter extends it to you. When accepting your award, stand slightly
sideways toward the audience, then reach for and take it with the hand nearest
the presenter. This way you avoid reaching in front of yourself or turning
your body away from the audience. After receiving the award hold it in full
view of the audience. If it is too large or heavy to hold, place it on the
lectern, step to one side and begin your speech. When you have finished
speaking carry the award in your hand and return to your seat.
Congratulations on receiving your
award! You have earned it. The greatest thanks you can give your host is to
accept it with grace and dignity.
Summarized from Accepting an
Award, from Toastmasters International Special Occasion Speeches advanced