What can you learn about public speaking from the Oscars? Preparation, practice, rehearsals, and scripts definitely. By the way, below is Ellen’s “Oscars Trailer.”
TIP: Although the trailer is 1 minute, consider your 30-second introduction as your trailer.
There’s a lot to pick up from the Oscars that you can apply to public speaking. Consider, first, the two primary elements for being a great speaker – knowing your material and connecting with your audience.
Ellen knew her material. It was scripted, rehearsed, practiced, and delivered perfectly and naturally. She was confident. TIP: So, for you, just remember, know your material, rehearse it, practice it and deliver it naturally.
If Ellen had a prompter, I was never aware of it. When you know your material and you practice and rehearse it, it builds your confidence. I love that.
How do you connect with an audience whether it’s hundreds or a small group? Take cues from Ellen:
1. Research your audience beforehand. Ellen, of course, knew almost everyone there and probably had most of them on her show at one time or another, but she and her research staff and writers probably researched everything they could about the audience and incorporated as much as possible all throughout the delivery. If you noticed, Ellen’s entire presentation was all about the audience. (Without an audience, there is no presentation!!) By incorporating the audience all throughout, she kept them engaged and made her presentation more meaningful to them. This is KEY. There’s already talk to bring Ellen back next year. She was good.
2. Ask questions. I love this. Ellen said she was going to order pizza. But, then she asked, “Is everybody hungry?” She continued to ask who wants pizza. I don’t know about you, but I was left wondering if she really was going to order pizza and how in the world would people eat greasy pizza all dressed up. Ellen was constantly asking questions throughout her presentation. Oh my, she did order pizza!! Talk about engagement. Brad Pitt was handing out plates. Ellen says, “Wait, Kerry Washington is pregnant. She needs some.” You see how she incorporates what’s actually happening into her presentation. She also “called out” an audience member – a very effective technique you can use as well. And, then is asking for money to pay for the pizza…! She says, “Where’s Harvey Weinstein? No pressure. Just everyone’s watching. Give whatever you want.” Hilarious!!
3. Be conversational. Here Ellen is giving a presentation to hundreds of people and it’s as if she simply in a conversation with everyone in the room. She has them laughing and she’s completely authentic, with deadpan delivery and lightheartedness. Some speakers are emphatic as speakers. That’s just a particular style. You don’t have to be an emphatic speaker and you can be, but it’s not always needed.
4. Smile, have fun, and move around. Ellen and every presenter who smiled seemed to sparkle and seemed to be having fun. You can have fun presenting because it is fun to present especially if you are prepared, know your material, and connect with your audience. Ellen spent at least half of her presentation time in the aisles of the audience. She wanted to be close to them – closeness creates engagement and connection. She also made fun of herself. She was talking about making sure that you stay on the line markers on the floor – meanwhile, the camera is showing the stage and no one there. You then see Ellen slowly and hesitantly appear stage right like she was not staying on the markers! Although she is a comedian, Ellen uses simple and real situations to poke fun and it evokes laughter and connection. Think about how you can do the same. It’s about having fun and being natural.
5. Be willing to look foolish on purpose. After Pink gave a fabulous vocal performance of “Over the Rainbow,” Ellen came out dressed as Glenda, the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz, disappointed that she missed her “cue.” When you are willing to show up foolish or wrong, you show your strength by being able to be vulnerable. Plus, everyone can relate!
6. Get your audience involved. Ellen got the audience involved more than once, but in one instance, she took a selfie photo that she re-tweeted and asked all the viewers to re-tweet it to see if it could be the most re-tweeted post ever. Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, and Jennifer Lawrence were only a few of the people in the selfie. It was awesome. You could do the same – at least do a selfie with your audience and have everyone re-tweet it once you’ve tweeted it. Brilliant!