Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and More Give Lessons on the Perfect Acceptance Speech

3. Say Something Meaningful

There are fewer platforms bigger than an awards stage. Actors are skilled at delivering words meant to move and inspire people--that's how they made it up to the podium in the first place. The best speeches are ones that forgo the self-congratulatory lists, and instead deliver something of poignancy. To that regard, grab a tissue and watch Tom Hanks:



Shirley Maclaine used her time in 1984 to acknowledge the privilege of being an artist:



A rags-to-riches story never fails to inspire waterworks, something Whoopi Goldberg showed us during her acceptance speech for Ghost:



And perhaps no one was more cognizant of the historical significance of their win than Halle Berry. Though perhaps excessively histrionic, the spirit of Berry's speech, an homage to all those who have had an uphill battle, is the epitome of an "Oscar moment":



With a better economy of words, Sidney Poitier's succinctly, but just as touchingly, addresses his momentous win:



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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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