When a brand positions itself one way and then acts another we call it a “brand disconnect.” It’s an integrity failure, meaning, a failure to integrate one’s professed values into one’s actions.
It’s more true than ever that we are each our own personal brands, and that needs to be kept in mind at all times, but even more so when we’re figuratively or literally on-stage in front of our key audiences. In the show business industry where it’s hard to get jobs even when you are one of the best, it’s interesting to watch how some who make – or seek to make – their living in the communication arts fail to show their craft in front of their biggest audience of potential fans and employers. I’m not at all suggesting that people hide their emotions. I am suggesting that they channel them into consumable, authentic, skilled communications when it counts.
So while it’s all still fresh in our minds, here are my nominations for the “5 Deadly Sins of Oscar Acceptance Speeches”.
1. The Slow Walk: Hear your name in a ceremony known for running too long, and fail to run up to the podium. Some of these people get up from their chairs with such a look of dazed astonishment that their name has been called it's as if they're surprised that the announcer knows they're in the room. Their initial launch from their chair looks like cheap imitations of slowmo scenes from “Chariots of Fire.” Don't be a dufus. Hear your name and get your ass to the podium as quickly as possible.
2. The Slow Talk: Yes, you've been given an award many dream of and few ever realize, but you haven't cured cancer. Drop the over serious slow talk and give us an upbeat celebratory message that sounds like a celebration so we can be happy with you. See Daniel Day Lewis’s speech for Best Actor, “Lincoln,” to get a good idea of the right balance.
3. Confused Talk: Unless you're accepting with someone else and they've eaten up all your time and thrown you off your game, don't get up there and talk so incoherently that everyone starts to wonder how it is that you even got a job in the story telling profession let alone an award for doing it. Everyone in the business has to explain his or her ideas to someone else. Do that here. Otherwise the appointments your agent wants to get for you this week based on this good news are going to be a lot harder to secure.
4. The "I'm Surprised " Talk: Again, sort of like the Slow Walk perps, you knew it was a 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 possibility that your name was going to be called, how freaking surprised can you be? Sure half the free world has been asking themselves since the day the nominations came out how your name got on the list, but as uncomfortable as that might be for you (well it is the industry based on faked sincerity, isn’t it) it means you must have known it was there. If all the media carping didn't telegraph it to you, the luncheon you were invited to for all the nominees should have been a dead give away. Leave the "this is my 'I'm surprised'" audition piece at home.
5. The "I Can't Remember Who to Thank" Talk: Really? You've lived with most of these people in some remote location for three months and the rest of the people you ought to mention were somehow responsible for you having the gig, and just a year or two later you've forgotten who they are?
Here's an idea: Go to the Super Bowl of the Communication Arts with a script memorized, and then tuck it in your pocket, just in case. You get the idea of a script: it's lines written when the writer has the time and privacy to think what ought be said. Then these carefully crafted text guides are memorized so the intended words are actually the ones spoken at Go Time. Hollywood has been using this little device since the advent of talkies. You're no Charlie Chaplin. Act like you're part of the communication profession and communicate… so you don’t commit a brand disconnect.