Award ceremonies are used across the world to highlight the work and achievements of a certain individual, team or organization. Nearly all award ceremonies tend to be formal or semi-formal occasions during which recipients of awards are asked to give an acceptance speech.

Acceptance speeches are primarily used by award recipients to convey the honor and appreciation that they feel from winning the award. Sometimes, recipients are unable to attend an awards ceremony and have someone close to them accept the award in their place. Accepting an award for someone else can be a nerve-wracking task. After all, you are representing that person or organization and speaking for them in that moment. With some preparation and gratitude, though, you will have the ability to accept an award on behalf of anyone.

Talk to the person who is receiving the award ahead of time. Ask him if there is anything specific he would like you to say when you accept the award on his behalf. If so, ask him to give a paper copy of what he wants said so that you can deliver the speech correctly. Also ask him if he wants you to explain to the audience why he could not accept the award himself in person.

Practice your planned speech many times in the days leading up to accepting the award. Practice reading the speech in front of a mirror so that you can see how you look as you talk. Continue to practice the speech until you are so familiar with it that you nearly have it memorized. If the person who won the award gave you a speech, strictly stick to it.

Be humble in your delivery. Any time someone wins an award, even if they are deserving of it, it is best to show your appreciation and gratitude. Include a nod to the other nominees, a thank you to the person or organization who awarded the award and a few positive comments about the winner of the award. Tell the audience how honored you are to accept the award on the winner’s behalf and always end your speech with “Thank you” or a similar sentiment.

Keep your speech brief. Most acceptance speeches range from three to five minutes long, depending on the award and the situation. If you are accepting the only award of the evening, your speech may run longer, but if you are receiving one of 20 or 30 awards, it’s best to keep your speech short and sweet so that the show can keep moving. While you don’t want to zip on and back off stage in 30 seconds, you also don’t want to drone on endlessly for 10 minutes.

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