Presentation Skills Training: The Oscar Challenge

Posted by Bridget Beirne
February 22, 2013

One of the things Team Ovation is known for is presentation skills training. We also happen to be professional actors. Today, we take our acting brethren to task with our Oscar Challenge! Keep our list close by as you watch the show this Sunday Feb. 24, and make yourself a member of the academy when it comes to judging presentation skills. Who exceeds your expectations, and who could use some training? 


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  1. Count those verbal viruses!: Keep your ears peeled for those "ummms", "uhhhs", "you knows", and "likes". Verbal viruses can quickly hurt a speaker's credibility. Actors work hard to free themselves of those issues, but no one is perfect! Who's got it more under control- the actors, or the producers?
  2.  Superstars of the neutral position: Look for a nice strong neutral position, with hips squared to the audience, and feet hip-width apart and facing front. While the winners will be holding onto a pretty major prop (there's no WAY they're going to abandon that golden guy!), note who is still able to use nice open gestures, and who is clutching their statuette for dear life.
  3. Best Performance of a Personal Story: Storytelling works! And no doubt the evening will be filled with stories of first auditions, agent interactions, parental guidance and wishes, as well as tales from the set. Note who you think delivered the best story of the night. Extra points for noting how those moments impact the audience when the camera pans around. 
  4. Strongest use of eye contact by a leading actor: Or anyone for that matter! Try and observe who is making strong, direct eye contact with their audience- chances are, they are the ones speaking TO the audience, not AT them. They will no doubt look more calm and collected than their jittery colleagues. And speaking of jitters...
  5. Best use of stage fright energy: We always say that even seasoned actors experience stage fright, and with all the anxiety and emotions wrapped up in Oscar night, it can be a parade of nervous energy. Who takes a calming core breath and uses it? Who breaks the tension with some humor? At which point in the speech do you notice the most nervous winners have started to get their footing? Noticing how the pros deal with that fear can help you deal with your own!


Not sure who you're pulling for this awards season? Here's a list of the nominees, complete with links to trailers of their work, in case you've missed it. (Don't worry if you have- you can always vote for the prettiest dress or best tux...) Have fun! 

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