What Matthew McConaughey wants to teach you about speeches: Right or Wrong?

So these guys are proud of Matthew’s speech from the Oscars. What do you think?


We always tell graduates of our speech class, “Influencing from the front”, that will never be able to watch a presentation the same again. I equate it to learning how a magic tragic works — you look from an ‘insider’s’ perspective.

The Oscars is the Holy Grail for speeches. Both good and bad.

I personally didn’t watch them, I don’t have cable television, but Roberto was on them like white on rice. (Shhh… don’t tell anyone — he has a reputation to live up to) He claims his significant other made him watch them, but I know he was secretly hoping to get a glimpse of the Biebster in the audience…

All kidding aside, there are some great lessons to learn from the acceptance speeches that night.

I asked Roberto which ones he thought were the best and he said, Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey (side note: he actually said, “Jay Leno and Matthew McClay!” — gosh, it NEVER gets old)

I asked some of my other friends and those two names came up each time. So, I Googled their speeches and took a gander.

After watching them, it was obvious why both of their speeches were so compelling.  For sake of time, I just chose one to review.

So, let’s take a look at Mr. McConaughey’s speech and see what we can learn:

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey

Photo: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

(If above image link doesn’t work click here to watch video)

First off, let’s be honest, Matthew McConaughey has a great stage presence, as he should, he’s a professional actor. Quite frankly, it should be an embarrassment to the trade for any of these ‘pros’ to give a bad speech — it’s basically what they do for a living.

Besides having extreme confidence and charisma, structurally, Matthew McConaughey’s speech employed a structure/influence tactic that we have been teaching for years… AND YOU SHOULD USE IT TOO.

Influenceology’s presentation framework is: OpeningPreframesBody, Pre-close,Close

It was a textbook version of The Power of Three body and he even used preframes.

He opened with the obligatory “thank dear academy… blah blah blah”

He then used a content pre frame stating that:

  1. He needs someone to look up to, 
  2. something to look forward to and 
  3. someone to chase.

Then he proceeded to build the Body of his speech around those 3 chunks.  Each chunk he states his claim and then backs it with an explanation/illustration and/or story.

Chunk 1: He needs someone to look up to.

Illustration: He referred to God. Quoted a famous quote.

Chunk 2: Something to look forward to

Illustration: He explained that was his family.  Told story about father. Thanked mother. Thanked wife/kids.

Chunk 3: Someone to chase

Illustration: A hero to try and be like (who was him in ten years). Told story about conversation he had with an “important person”.

Then he summarized (Pre-close) and Closed.  

His close used the power of 3 as well: To all of that, he says “Amen,”  ”Alright, Alright, Alright” and “Keep on Livin”.

The total speech, which I agree, was fantastic was only 3:50.  Do you think this could be used in an impromptu situation or maybe a toast?

Notice how when he was talking about his father, he used his body to illustrate his story.  When telling a story, you want to do everything you can to help the audience paint their own vidid picture — to make them feel like they are there.

10K take away

Also, re-watch when he is telling the story about becoming his own hero, HE PLAYED BOTH ROLES.  He had a conversation with himself.  That is a very ninja influence strategy that we call “quotes”.  You quote another person and have that “difficult” conversation with yourself — knowing that the audience will automatically go internal and have that conversation too.  This could be used to ‘wound’ your audience without breaking rapport.  You aren’t speaking to them directly, but you are indirectly.

For example, if I want to use the “quotes” tactic to get people to take their health more serious:  

“Then one day Roberto came to me and asked, ‘how are you doing on your health?’”, I said, “I’m doing pretty good, I’m still working on it”  then Roberto said, “Jeff, what do you mean you’re working on it?… you’ve been saying that for 2 years now.  You’re 65 lbs over weight, you’re no longer overweight, you’re morbidly obese!… You have high blood pressure and your diet is STILL unhealthy.”  I sat there for a few moments and realized he was right, I had been lying to myself….telling myself, “it’s not that bad”, “I’ll fix it tomorrow”, “diets don’t work for me”…

Anyone who is sitting in the audience that is anywhere remotely in that situation will go internal and start to play the role of me. (heck even some people that aren’t overweight will question if they are).  

Super, super effective strategy and Matthew McConaughey employed it perfectly.

Next time you have have to create a presentation fast, consider the power of 3.


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