The Academy Awards: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As I do every year, I watched the Academy Awards with a few friends. We meet at one friend’s house, enjoy a potluck dinner and gab about the dresses, the emcee(s), the Academy winners and losers. This year had its usual fill of beautiful and not so beautiful moments. We can learn many etiquette lessons by watching the Academy Awards.  Here are my notes on the good, the bad and the ugly moments of this year’s show.

Let’s start with the “Bad”

Don’t chew gum!

Sam Worthington, lead actor in Avatar was guilty of this. Even if you chew gum with your mouth closed you look like a cow chewing its cud. And who wants to see a piece of gum in your mouth when you speak. Don’t do it! The best place to chew gum is on a deserted island.

Avoid leaning over the microphone to speak into it

With a highly produced show where no detail is overlooked, you know the producers take into consideration the amplification of the speakers’ voices. They set the microphones at the appropriate level so that speakers don’t need to lean over the microphone to be heard. I was surprised by how many of the speakers did this. We may never be on stage at the Academy Awards, but if you’re speaking to a group with a microphone that isn’t adjustable ask your audience if they can hear you while standing up straight. Most likely they will. Bending over the microphone shows you’re a novice and looks awkward.

Bring a hankie or tissue

Seriously, the Academy Awards are emotional – you win, you’re overcome with emotion; your partner wins, you’re overcome with emotion; you lose, you’re overcome with emotion. Don’t be caught wiping your tears away with your hand like Gabourey Sidibe did.

Be prepared

I’ve forgotten who made this gaff, but they won the Oscar for their category and were not prepared to give an acceptance speech. Come on; if you’re nominated there is a chance you could win. Make it easier on yourself and your audience by having a speech prepared. Anyone who wants to be a good speaker must be prepared – know your material, your audience, the amount of time you have to speak and what A/V equipment you’ll be using, if any.

Moving on to the “Ugly”

Don’t steal someone’s spotlight.

Elinor Burkett, former producer for the documentary movie “Music by Prudence”, ran up to the stage, interrupted and talked over Director-Producer Roger Ross Williams as he was giving his acceptance speech for the movie. It was so incredibly rude! I’ve said this before, we will all have our moment to shine, don’t steal someone else’s moment. It makes us look shallow and just plain rude.

Don’t under dress.

I was shocked to see John Travolta wearing jeans. I know he’s going through a difficult time having lost his son Jet last year, but there is no excuse to under dress at one of the dressiest events of the year. I see this mistake often at events in Seattle. It’s disrespectful and it makes those who do it look like party poops. Be sure to find out what the event attire is and follow it. If you don’t know what “black tie” means Google it or call me, I’m happy to help.

And finally, the “Good”

Poise and graciousness win the day

Sandra Bullock was the perfect Oscar winner. She looked lovely in her stunning, but not over the top, dress. She held herself with confidence and poise and gave a very gracious acceptance speech. She was funny, humble, confident and respectful; a role model to all of us.

That’s it for this year’s Academy Awards report. May you have Oscar worthy etiquette throughout the year.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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