Mark Grimm


Jodie Foster’s Award Speech: What No Plan Looks Like

Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards is a great “teaching moment” in speech preparation (view for yourself below). It was hard to watch.

I’m a longtime fan of the actress. The Cecil B. DeMille Award is a great honor and she had plenty of time to prepare. It’s too bad she did not make the most of it.

Good speech making requires a clear plan before hand on what you want to say and then to proceed with concise, conversational language. Foster seemed to be working things out in her mind on the fly — calling for more privacy while attempting to come out involving her sexuality.

Brains, beauty and fame don’t make you a good speaker. Ms. Foster has those. Speakers must portray conviction about what they are saying and be clear about it. Waffling is far too vague and makes the audience uncomfortable. Many great actors are poor speakers because revealing themselves is far more personal and difficult than revealing a character. Foster did try to get more personal and speak from the heart but she didn’t think it all the way through.

The good news is you don’t have to be rich and famous to speak well. Good speech principles are open to everyone. Foster’s appearance should not make you more nervous. It should be a lesson on how to prepare better.

The writer is a professional speaker and speaking coach.