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Lessons from Jim Carrey’s 90 second Golden Globe speech

Jim Carrey's speech

Mathematically speaking, giving a short, sharp speech, such as an introduction, should be much easier than giving a whole speech. But it isn’t. Actor, comedian Jim Carrey nailed his 90 seconds in the spotlight at this week’s Golden Globe awards.

Critics described it as his best work in years. There are lessons for anyone who presents. The video is below but first, here’s why it’s so damn good:

1. He doesn’t waste time at the beginning. Just two syllables, “Thankyou” by way of introduction. It’s as if he was midway through a thought and just started speaking it into the microphone to share it with the audience. That’s very TED. Yes he does give his name and credentials at the start but’s that really part of his act.

2. His approach, his tone is self-deprecating, knowing and tongue-in-cheek. This approach almost always works but gets triple points in an environment which is self-important and self-congratulatory.

3. It’s very funny – and everybody loves funny. Note: not everybody is a globally recognised comedian however much of Carrey’s humour in this instance stems from his approach. (See point number two.) For people who take humour seriously – at 20 seconds in Carrey uses an exquisite turn of phrase when he describes sleeping as “well-needed shut-eye”. Later he uses the phrase “No sir”. It is hard to explain why these phrases make his speech more funny but they do. Exquisite.

4. He absolutely connects to his audience when 40 or so seconds in he reveals his naked ambition and desire for self-fulfillment in a room of highly ambitious and presumably unfulfilled celebrities. They understand him and he shows that he understands them. Coming from one of their own, they are only too happy to have a laugh at themselves. Note – I am yet to meet an audience that doesn’t actively enjoy having a laugh at itself. You won’t either.

5. Jim is not afraid to pause. You might use a pause to let a laugh slowly fade or to emphasise an important point. Great presenters pause.

6. There is also a generous amount of eye contact to people in all parts of the room.

7. He is also wearing an exquisitely tailored tux and one hell of a beard.

Watch it yourself.

If you want to be a better public speaker investigate our Presentation Savvy workshops which are available anywhere anytime on request.

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