Oscar Night 2011

Tonight is the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. It’s been years since I’ve seen the show live. For me, watching it from start to finish can be a tedious affair.

This year, however, I have more than a passing interest in one movie: The King’s Speech. Nominated in 12 categories, the movie deals with public speaking and the struggles of Britain’s King George VI to overcome a debilitating stammer.

My wife and I saw The King’s Speech earlier this week and it is superb. As there is little in the way of action, the acting had to be spot on and it was. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter are wonderful and play off each other perfectly. That the movie is based on a true story makes it even more compelling.

I will have more to say about The King’s Speech in a future post. In the meantime, if you have not yet seen it, please do so. It is entertaining and inspiring. The story of George VI and Lionel Logue demonstrates how, with determination and hard work, anyone can become a better public speaker.

Speaking of the Oscars, my friend Max Atkinson has written a post on the kind of acceptance speech that he would like to see from the winners. He even drafted a template. It would be refreshing if at least some of them heeded Max’s advice.

One of the best acceptance speeches that I’ve seen was that given by Ari Sandel, a movie director who won the Oscar for Best Short Film – Live Action in 2005.

I also like Russell Crowe’s acceptance speech in 2000 when he won the award for Best Actor for his performance in Gladiator.

For someone who seemed genuinely in shock when his name was called, Crowe spoke with poise and humility. I especially like the way in which he concluded on a positive and hopeful note for all struggling actors.

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  1. I don’t go to the theatre often but based on your recommendation I will make an effort to see this movie. So many of the movies now are given totally away in the trailers there is no need to see the actual movie. What most happens also is that you walk out of the movie and there is nothing to discuss about it. A good movie to me is one that inspires discussion about the characters, a surprise ending, the personalities, the times when it took place. The last movie I watched was Jules & Jim – I rented it from a bookstore. It is a 1962 black & white movie. The times are pre-WWI and post-WWI. An excellent movie that inspired discussion afterward. Not a dazzling spectacular movie with special effects instead it was about the character interactions.

    1. Thanks for the comment, David. My wife and I discussed the film at length over dinner afterwards, so I think that you will enjoy it. Do let me know what your impressions are after you’ve seen it.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the recommendation to watch The King’s Speech. I was left with a buoyant and uplifted spirit afterwards that almost left me sleepless! As a Toastmaster, it allowed me to experience the privilege of working with others who wish to make their voices heard, striving to be the best we can when speaking publicly. Lionel Logue showed me what real compassion looks like, and better yet what a role model for telling the truth all the time and not just when it is convenient. I will see this film more then once and will purchase it for my library.

    1. Thanks, Cindy. And the Academy clearly agrees with you. I was glad to see the film do so well and was pleased for Colin Firth, whom I have always liked. Like you, I have no doubt that this film will find its way into my (limited) DVD collection.

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International