How to Write A Good Acceptance Speech: Great Example

Good Acceptance Speech How to Example from APAHow do you write a good acceptance speech?

Start early, be yourself, honor those who’ve helped you, state your connection to the organization giving you the award, and rehearse…again…again and again.

Every year the American Payroll Association honors their Man and Woman of the Year. The next year at the annual conference call Congress they deliver a five-minute speech to almost 2,500 of their peers. I’ve had the honor of speaking at twenty-one APA’s Congress events and working with APA’s leaders and speakers. Dan Maddux, the APA’s very creative Executive Director, and his convention team always have amazing themes and sets. As you can tell the 2018 theme was James Bond and Pay for Another Day.

David Wakeling’s Payroll Man of The Year Speech 2018

As an executive speech coach and long time partner with APA, one of my favorite projects for the is helping the Man and Woman of the Year with their presentations. David Wakeling came with a superb idea of the approach he wanted to take. Eny the video and script.

“Once upon a time, there was a painfully shy introvert who was raised on a small farm in northeastern Nevada near a town of 200 people.

This young man attended a four-year high school with a total enrollment of 27 students. For lack of a better name, let’s call this young man Dave.

Even though he had been a supervisor or manager for most of his working career, Dave had very little confidence and was even terrified to hold a department staff meeting.

After working at Los Angeles County Metro for ten years in the Financial Reporting Section of the Accounting Department, George, the Controller called him into his office and said, “Dave, as you know, the Payroll Manager is retiring in two weeks. I would like for you to run the Payroll Department. Are you interested?” Without giving it a thought, Dave said, “Yes.”

George explained, “There is a Payroll Learning Series being taught at Chapman University that prepares individuals to pass the American Payroll Association CPP exam to become highly respected payroll professionals. Why don’t you attend and become certified?”

At the first class, Dave met the instructor, a gorgeous, vivacious, blonde woman, Sondra Dougherty.

By the end of that first class, Dave was in love. Madly in love! Sondra, however, was happily married, as was Dave.

Oh, now, before you start spreading rumors, let me clarify. Dave was in love with Sondra’s teaching style. Even after a hard day at work and having to drive an hour each way in Los Angeles’s stop-and-go traffic, Dave looked forward to the Thursday night payroll classes. Why?

Sondra made learning fun by teaching these strategies:

  • Using mnemonics to help remember key concepts
  • Teaching the class tips and tricks for solving complicated payroll calculations
  • Incorporating court cases to validate the material, and
  • Inspiring the students to love payroll

One day after the class term was finished, Sondra called Dave and said: “Dave, congratulations on passing the CPP exam! I have been teaching the Payroll Learning Series for the past six years and would like to move on to other projects. Would you be interested in taking over?”

His reply: “Wow, would I ever.” This was an opportunity of a lifetime, to be able to teach a university class. Sondra willingly shared her materials and continued to mentor Dave. As a result, Dave taught the Payroll Learning Series for the next 12 years at Chapman University and relished seeing his students become Certified Payroll Professionals.

Throughout this time, Sondra continued to be his mentor.

Based on his engaging teaching style, Dave was invited to become a member of the APA Speakers Bureau. This gave him the opportunity to follow in his mentor’s footsteps and teach APA seminars in major U.S. and Canadian cities.

Dave joined the APA Strategic Payroll Leadership Task Force Government/Public Sector Subcommittee. The Committee Chairman was a handsome young man, Ron Moser (2007 Payroll Man of the Year). Ron is a visionary with great ideas who unceasingly shares his time and talents with the APA.

Ron took Dave under his wing and became a great mentor and friend. Ron also gave Dave opportunities to co-present workshops with him at Congress and also APA Webinars.

Good training and mentoring began with Sondra Dougherty. From there, Ron Moser and numerous others have encouraged Dave to become involved.

A pivotal moment in Dave’s self-confidence and APA involvement came the first time he was teaching an APA seminar in New York.

This was the moment when this terribly shy introvert with no confidence from Lund, Nevada, suddenly realized, at 37 floors high above Times Square in New York City, that, metaphorically, he was on top of the world and had made it.

That’s when Dave turned into the dynamic, charismatic, charming, confident man standing before you today.

All I really needed to know about becoming an outstanding Payroll Professional, I learned at the APA.

After twenty years of involvement, I am where I am today in my professional career because of the APA.

A quote from the 2017 APA Congress brochure says, “Success doesn’t come to you. You go to it.”

How do you make this happen as a payroll professional? For those of you new to our payroll family, take advantage of everything APA has to offer.

Get involved.


  • Some of the APA committees
  • A local APA payroll chapter

Even if you are shy or lack confidence, don’t let that hold you back.

You will find mentors and leaders who will recognize the potential in you long before you see it in yourself and will help you become successful.

Take advantage of the APA educational opportunities. You want to be knowledgeable and at the top of your game as a payroll professional even if you have to pay for them.

Thank you:

  • Thank you, Dan Maddux, for your vision in building the APA into a dynamic, worldwide professional payroll organization.
  • Thank you, Jim Medlock and APA staff, for the opportunities you have given me, and
  • Thank you for the most wonderful honor of being your 2017 Payroll Man of the Year.”

Jeffrey Mishlove Acceptance speech after and essay contest that awarded him $500,000.00.

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Deliver a Great Acceptance Speech & Other “Impromptu” Remarks

Just a few of the many complimentary resources on to help you prepare for “impromptu” remarks:

How Do You Accept An Award?

How to Write a Meaningful Eulogy – Expert Advice

Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.

Need help for you or your team on improving important conversations and presentations? The Fripp Customized Approach will work for you. Contact Fripp today!