Olivia Coleman won the Oscar for Best Actress at the 91st Academy Awards, giving an award acceptance speech as chaotic as it was captivating. Here are four reasons Coleman's speech is so watchable.
She mixes self-deprecating with observational humour
"This is genuinely quite stressful"
There are few better ways to win over an audience suffering thirty versions of the same speech than to show you are suffering with them. Who could better relate to the pressure to say something meaningful within the academy's onerous 45-second time limit than her fellow film actors? Coleman comes across as sincere and opens to laughter from her audience after appealing to their ability to emphathise.
She uses her moment to praise the work of others
"Thank you my husband Ed, my best friend"
An award acceptance speech wouldn't be an award acceptance speech without saying thank you to everyone who comes to mind in the adrenaline of the moment. Coleman's speech is no different and includes the traditional nods to her family, fellow actors and role models. By sticking to a familiar formula Coleman satisfies her audience's expectations, while simultaneously raising them through the use of brevity, banter and comic timing. Instead of reeling off a mundane list of names, she tells micro stories that keep the audience intrigued and enthralled.
She offers an unexpected rags to riches story
"I used to be a cleaner and I absolutely loved that job"
Who doesn't appreciate a loveable underdog? In just one sentence, Coleman offers up an unexpected glimpse into her life before the Oscars. The revelation that she used to love her job as a cleaner is less for her audience in The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles than for the viewer at home. Coleman knows she is instantly broadening her appeal by demonstrating her humility in a moment of genuine pride.
She uses her story to inspire
"Any little girl who is praciticing their speech on the telly, you never know!"
Coleman uses her own micro story to set up the lesson she wants us all to draw from it. She turns her cleaning lady to leading lady modern fairy tale into a shorthand form of the classic hero's journey sequence; providing another opportunity for the audience at home to feel invested in her success.
She blows an authentic raspberry
When told to wrap up, Coleman allows herself an entirely unfiltered reaction and blows a raspberry to the delight of the audience and press. Coleman is sure by this point that her audience in The Dolby Theatre is behind her and uses that good will to great effect by juxtaposing her position as the winner of the Oscar for Best Actress with her chosen persona as the blissfully astonished former cleaner.