An acceptance speech should (1) acknowledge the significance of the event; (2) give thanks (where appropriate) to those who’ve helped; and (3) make a “statement” about the awarding organization’s importance, what it stands for, and how its primary emphasis is reflected in some way in the recipient’s life (not bragging). Usually, the recipient will be introduced in a way that highlights her or his accomplishments and how they resonate with the interests of the award. One should be mindful of this, and when possible get an idea of how the introduction is going to go so one may develop one’s acceptance speech off of it.
Generally it is not a good idea to follow the “I don’t deserve this” theme. I believe most audiences want to feel like the right choice was made and the recipient is ready and able to uplift them with a speech that follows along the lines sketched out by the award’s interests and the criteria employed in selecting its recipients. However, there are cultural influences that should shape the way one’s client plays the role of recipientâ€”with sensitivity to the most appropriate way of accepting an award (for example, there may be a cultural convention operative on a given occasion that demands that one avow how undeserving one is of such praise).