Watching the Oscars last night, I tried to understand the biggest appeal of this program. Why do many of us enjoy the show?
- the glitz
- the actual films
- the fun of following the show on Twitter
or is it the speeches?
No, that can’t be it.
The chattering classes seem to universally like Daniel Day-Lewis‘s speech last night, after receiving his well-deserved Oscar for “Lincoln”.
So many of these speeches are disappointments, though – those self-serving laundry lists of people we do not know and do not care about. I posted this on Facebook last night:
I wonder why these people, who spend immense amounts of money on agents and publicists, don’t spend 200 bucks on a speechwriter.
What a way to immortalize a truly great moment – accepting with humility and grace, delivering a 45 second whopper of a soundbite that will have a half-life as long as their cinematic achievement
Great speeches are devoid of pop culture references; the words need to stand up to time.
The same goes for how we talk to each other.
Politicians have long known how to answer a question without giving an answer. The reason we hate that so much is we need to know that they are connecting with our issues. We need to know that they understand that, yes, the economy still stinks. If they never get around to acknowledging that fact, they seem out of touch.
When you give words to something, it makes the subject real. It shows an understanding of the facts.
My fiancée and her daughter tell me sometimes I answer their questions like a politician. I found that humorous at first, but then I realized that I was probably trying to get out of whatever trouble I had gotten into with them! They know that. I’m working on giving more answers like “yes” and “no” these days.
You can almost always tell when someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It might be as simple as bumbling well-known facts. It might be a whole pile of extra words, talking around the main subject – as if more words clarify it. We know when we’re being played. We can smell insincerity. Think about how torturous that is at a cocktail party. Think how phony that sounds to a hiring manager.
In your next job interview, don’t give them an Oscar acceptance speech. Less “me me me” and more “us.” Say something real. Ask a wordsmith friend to craft some real answers to the challenging questions you might be asked, like explaining that employment gap on your work history.
You know the truth. When you give the truth good words, authentic and elegant words, you gain valuable credibility. And those words will be far more memorable then “I’d like to thank my hairstylist, my accountant…”
John Scott is an instructor, online learning coordinator, and the career services manager for the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University San Francisco. His book “Destination:Reinvention” is on sale now in the Amazon bookstore.
Discover your daily reinvention tip at destinationreinvention.com.