All Hail Oprah: The Queen of Messaging

The Media Mogul Had a Speaking Platform at Sunday’s Golden Globes and Smartly Took Advantage

Credit: NBC Universal.
Sidney Poitier with his Best Actor Oscar in 1964.

She was compelling.

Oprah opened her speech with the story of how, as a young girl, she watched Sidney Poitier win an Oscar for Best Actor for “Lilies of the Field,” and how life came full circle with her following him in achievement as the first black woman to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2018. Her story was personal, and she immediately grabbed the audience’s attention.

She was relevant.

The #MeToo movement had overtaken Hollywood in the months leading up to the awards, and instead of shying away from the controversy, Oprah used her speech as a platform to address her thoughts, like many of Americans, on the issue. She struck the right balance of expressing her gratitude, but also making note of what the audience wanted and expected to hear from her. Oprah also made a statement by joining other celebrities in wearing black on the red carpet, to show solidarity with sexual assault and harassment victims.

Recy Taylor circa 1940s. Credit: Augusta Films.

She was strategic.

Good messaging should have a strategy behind it — and Oprah’s speech definitely did. It was a slow and riveting build, peaking with the story of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who was abducted and assaulted by six white men in Alabama in 1944. Oprah’s speech defined the issue (sexual assault and harassment); showed differentiation (women are now speaking up and change is coming); and addressed it with a call to action (support this change and the “Time’s Up” campaign). It was brilliantly delivered.

Lastly, she was memorable.

Oprah ended her speech with a rousing “a new day is on the horizon!” She gave the audience hope, as her last line expressed that she looked forward to “the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.” Oprah’s message made a lasting impression, so lasting, that people took to Twitter last night to campaign for her to run for President in 2020. Her longtime partner, Stedman Graham, hinted that she hadn’t ruled it out, so now we all have to wait and see what happens. But if she continues giving speeches like that, she can certainly be a contender!



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