May 7th 2014

Tips for Planning the Perfect Awards Ceremony

You can’t beat a good award ceremony. 

It’s a great forum for people to network, for businesses to showcase their work, to motivate staff and clients, and of course, if done well it can be a fun and interactive marketing & PR tool. So, having organised a fair few over the last 30-years, here are some of my top tips to guide you towards creating a brilliant event:

Budget – Give your budget careful consideration. An awards ceremony, with its pre and post publicity is a major marketing tool and the perfect opportunity to showcase your business. Make sure your budget reflects this.

Production – Employ a production team to deal the audio-visual side of the event.  You do not want to be engaging in conversations about technical issues when your skills clearly lie elsewhere!  Ask your venue for companies with whom they have worked, ask around for recommendations or remember events that you attended, where the presentation particularly impressed you.  You want to be confident in your choice, so do your homework.

Stay on brand – Whilst your event is all about recognising achievers, it is also about your brand.  From the colour scheme to the table decorations, the invitations to the actual awards that are handed out, all should be in keeping with your company’s brand, both in style and principal.  By using this strategy, you will firmly establish your company in the minds of all attendees.

branding at award ceremonies

Host – Obviously, the host will be the lynch-pin of your main event. If you have the budget and want to go down the celebrity route try to ensure that you book someone who is relevant and has hosting experience such as a television personality or presenter.  Eamonn Holmes & Ruth Langsford come to mind a real pros here, but I have also used local TV and radio personalities to great success. Alternatively, you may choose to keep the hosting duties ‘in-house’, either way, make sure that they are completely comfortable with their role by fully briefing them on the format of your event.  Make them part of the process and allow them to have some input in the script.   Make sure that you go through all nominee names, ensuring that all are pronounced correctly to avoid any embarrassing moments on the night!  A well-informed and well-rehearsed host will make for a smooth, professional event.

host for award ceremony

Timing – Be meticulous about your timing.  Award ceremonies can sometimes drag on so keep a close eye on your schedule from day one.  To hold your guest’s attention, try to vary the content of the event by interspersing the award-giving with short audio-visual clips of nominees or even go ‘Oscar-style’ and film live footage of award winners’ reactions!

Entertainment – You may have already spent a fair amount of your budget on your host but don’t scrimp when it comes to entertainment and if you have the means, don’t restrict it to after the ceremony. There are lots of fantastic, fun acts that can entertain at your drinks reception and during the meal.  In the past, singing waiters have always been well received and a really skilled magician can still wow a crowd (TLC loves working with Dynamo!), but if you want to keep your costs down a little, opt for some ‘living tables’ they’re certainly a talking point! Post-ceremony, give everyone the chance to really let their hair down with a great band or DJ.  Before booking them, try to see them in action or ask if they have a showreel.  Go for an act with a wide appeal that will get the crowd up and dancing and if your CEO is a big Sinatra fan – make sure they play some!

entertainment for award ceremony entertainment for award ceremony catering for award ceremonySell Yourself – Let’s face it, your business will have invested a considerable amount of time and money into an awards ceremony, so make sure you extract the maximum amount of publicity from it.  Capture the event on camera with a roaming crew and record clips to camera during the event to use on your website as testimonials for next year’s ceremony! Use social media to create a buzz before the event and you could find that yours is the hottest ticket in town.

Lighting for award ceremony

The Room – Be aware of the shape and acoustics when choosing your room.  The last thing you want is for people to have a pillar obscuring their view of the stage or not be able to hear.  Award ceremonies can be noisy events so ensure that your sound engineer takes this into account.

Lighting – Create an atmosphere by utilising fabulous lighting.  Project company logos and use a programme of ‘intelligent’ coloured lights to add drama and signify important events in the schedule, e.g. different lighting when someone is walking up to collect an award.  This will give your event a dynamic feel and is also a cost-effective alternative to dressing your entire room.

Lighting for award ceremony 12BGLBall011

Tables –Try to avoid large table decorations.  Whilst they will look impressive, you don’t want your guests having to peer over the top of vast floral displays in order to see the award winners!  Low level, stylish centrepieces or innovative decorations such as filigree bird cages or huge chandeliers suspended above tables look just as stunning.

Lighting for award ceremony

WOW – Yes, always include some WOW factor!  Whether it’s fireworks at the end of the night, great gifts for guests or surprise entertainment, keep a little something back to the end of the night.  Guests will leave with a great memorable moment to talk about, and something to keep Twitter busy!

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