Mia Manansala’s Guide to Acceptance Speeches

Y’all, I’m excited and a little nervous.
Why, you might ask?

Because today we have our first-ever Guest Post!
And, it’s someone I admire the heck out of and whose amazingness directly inspired me to apply to the William F. Deeck – Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers.
She is also the first person I thought of when I realized I’d need help writing my acceptance speech, which is what she’s here to talk about today. (Thanks to her advice, my speech at Malice Domestic was lauded as “One of the best” and “so good!” and “I could tell you didn’t want to be up there, but you sounded great.’ )

Tips on Writing an Acceptance Speech

By Mia P. Manansala

Hello, everyone! My name is Mia, and I’m guest blogging today for Bess Carnan since she was kind enough to invite me to share my thoughts with you all.

A few months ago, Bess reached out to me to ask for some tips on making an acceptance speech. She is NOT a fan of public speaking (and I’m sure a good 99% of you can relate to that), but she knew that I had some experience making speeches as I was the 2017 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant winner and the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Award winner, both of which involved accepting the award publicly. I told her what worked for me, she thanked me, and I thought that was that.

However, she contacted me again after she gave her speech for being the 2019 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant winner (congrats!) and asked if I’d be willing to write a post regarding the advice I gave her. At first, I was tempted to refuse. It felt a little presumptuous, arrogant even, to think that I (an unpublished writer) had anything to say on the matter. But Bess assured me that not only had she found my advice useful, but she thought it was information that could help other writers.

So here’s the advice I gave her, and I hope it’ll help you too. Of course, the mileage may vary, depending on the particular award you’re accepting, but I always start by asking myself these three questions:

1) Why did I apply to this thing?

2) What does it mean for me now that I’ve got it?

3) Who helped me along the way and deserves recognition?

I also advise you to read your speech aloud several times before you actually present till it starts to feel natural(ish), but absolutely do not try and memorize it. Why? For one, a memorized speech tends to sound robotic and over-rehearsed, and two, if you forget part of it while you’re delivering your speech, it’ll throw you off entirely and make you even more nervous.

Both times, I had my speech typed up on my phone notepad and glanced at it for reference, but you could also print it out. Also, depending on how you process things, you could write it out entirely, or just bullet point the important parts and work off of that. Even though I took the time to write out full speeches, I didn’t read them all word-for-word, instead counting on the emotion of the moment to carry me through.

Honestly, keep it short but heartfelt and you can’t go wrong. Also, don’t forget to breathe. Congratulations in advance!


Mia P. Manansala uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture. She is the winner of the 2018 Hugh Holton Award, 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, the 2017 William F. Deeck – Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship. She’s also a 2017 Pitch Wars alum and 2018 mentor, the secretary of MWA Midwest, and a member of Sisters in Crime, Banyan Asian American Writers Collective, Chicago Writers Association, and Chicago Nerd Social Club.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @MPMtheWriter and at her website: https://www.miapmanansala.com/

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