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How relevance, authenticity and delivery shaped Oprah Winfrey’s iconic acceptance speech

What made Oprah Winfrey’s iconic acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes 2018 so effective?

We asked RADA in Business Tutor, Sandra Miller, to break down what gave Oprah’s words so much impact, and how you could apply these techniques yourself:

There are three main reasons that this speech stands out as a piece that will be remembered: relevance, authenticity and delivery.

Relevance - Oprah has caught the mood of the audience. Every word she utters speaks to the feelings of the crowd - past injustices both racial and gender based, and an awakening of the belief that everyone in the audience can make a difference: “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have’’.

Authenticity – Oprah engages with us emotionally. By telling us her story of watching Sidney Poitier accept an Academy Award when she was little, to sharing her present moment with other girls with their own dreams, she touches on our own memories of childhood. She hooks us in so that we follow her on her journey. Her truth becomes our truth and even if we cannot relate to her personal experience, we understand the importance of it. We want to know more.

Delivery - Masterful. Her use of the pause, emphasis and vocal variety means that we are hanging on to every word, waiting for the next gem to fall. She cleverly flatters the press: "I value the press more than ever before” ensures that the story will be effectively reproduced. Her use of repetition “But their time is up. Their time is up’’ leave us with no doubt about the message she is leaving us.

Oprah Winfrey is a powerful presenter and an icon but she shared something of herself that touched an audience beyond intellect and reason - she moved us so that we were able to believe through the power of her words and the skilled delivery that "a new day is on the horizon".

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