Kevin Durant made his acceptance speech earlier this week after being awarded the 2013-14 Kia Most Valuable Player Award. The 27-minute long ceremony highlighted the camaraderie, hard work and humbleness of the 25-year-old small forward, who had nothing but good things to say—and even a few tears to shed. Want to make your next speech as memorable as KD’s? Read on and find out how the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-ever MVP earned himself a standing ovation.
Thank those who helped you—and even those who didn’t
Every good speech begins with acknowledging one’s own frailties and shortcomings, coupled with thanking those who played a part in helping you overcome them. Durant thanked his spiritual roots first, but he also thanked each member of the franchise for a specific way they touched his life (making his speech that much more poignant). He had the most to say about his mother, who sacrificed so much to raise him and his brother. Ever humble, Durant also thanked the critics who helped fuel his ascent, including The Oklahoman who headlined him “Mr. Unreliable.” That’s why he’s an MVP.
Add some touches of humour
Durant got a few chuckles out of the crowd when he told them that his mom probably just wanted him out of the house when she let him go to his first basketball practice, not to mention his friendly digs at OKC centre Hasheem Thabeet and the rest of the roster. Humour can go a long way when paced well, adding much-needed relief in between serious topics. Hearing an audience laughing can also help ease your nervousness, so try to front-load a lighthearted joke or two if you know you don’t handle public speaking very well.
Dress the part
Another way to give yourself a boost of confidence is to dress well. Decreasing the number of things you might preoccupy yourself with while sweating it out on the stage will help you focus on the task at hand: delivering a flawless speech. It also shows respect to those who you have come to thank.
Remember events in detail
A picture is worth a thousand words, so paint one with your speech. Durant recalled events from his life with excruciating detail, from Kendrick Perkins’ late-night texts after hard games, to his mother, brother and himself sitting in an empty apartment hugging one another for support. If you wondered what made his speech such a tear-jerker, this is why. Such scenes have the power to draw people into the moment, even if they weren’t there.
Save the best for last
It’s effective to leave the most important things you have to say for almost the end of your speech, well after you’ve already hooked the audience and have covered most of your bases. This builds up a climax, and it might just result in a standing ovation like after KD thanked his mom and told her, “You’re the real MVP.” After that, a quick and graceful exit clinches what will always be one of the most memorable MVP speeches to date.