How to Organise An Awards Ceremony
Award ceremonies are becoming increasing popular across all industries, celebrating achievement in every field from business to fashion, technology to blogging. Holding an awards ceremony for your business or within your industry is a great way to acknowledge the people that matter. It is no wonder then that more event companies are being asked to deliver exceptional awards ceremonies by their clients.
Award shows do not all have to be as lavish or as glamorous as the Grammys and the Oscars but they do have to deliver an unforgettable experience for attendees. This can pose a unique set of challenges, which means they must be approached differently from other corporate events. For starters, you need to ensure that the award show is memorable and engaging for all attendees whilst meeting the needs of the client and any sponsors.
The competitive nature of the awards ceremony planning industry, especially in London, means that you have to be innovative as well as deliver the basics with genuine aplomb and all on a budget too! The pressure to produce an award ceremony that is better than the previous year is also a major factor.
Ultimately, there’s nothing worse than having a damp squib of an event when it is supposed to be a celebration. This guide to organising an awards ceremony is designed to provide all the information you need to not just succeed but excel.
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Organising an Awards Event
Types of Awards Ceremonies
Award ceremonies are a mainstay in many industries and sectors nowadays. There is a diverse range of award events taking place on every night of the year – everything from The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards to the Kent Health and Beauty awards. Awards ceremonies aren’t just confined to industries – they are widely used within businesses and organisations to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of their employees. They can take place on a regional, national, or international level.
Why Organise an Awards Ceremony?
There are two basic groups that award ceremonies fit into – internal and external. Internal refers to those businesses and organisations looking to recognise and celebrate employees and their work. You also have external awards, which are industry or sector wide, and focus on acknowledging achievements within a wider field.
Internal – Business Awards Ceremonies
The whole atmosphere and ethos of a firm can be shaped or at the very least underpinned by events like a corporate awards ceremony. They are a great way to honour those people that have helped grow your client’s business and show them that they are valued. By creating a culture within an organisation where hard work is publicly rewarded, you motivate employees to achieve. Business awards ceremonies often feature awards for the recognition of landmark Years of Service, which brings this dedication to a sharp focus. Charities, on the other hand, can utilise award ceremonies as a way of acknowledging the efforts of volunteers and outstanding contributions.
As a social event, it also provides a great opportunity for employees to network with their colleagues and feel part of a collective with a shared experience.
External – Industry Awards Ceremonies
If your client works within a particular industry then there are numerous reasons why they may want to organise an awards ceremony. They are often great for exposure within a specific sector and provide plenty of positive PR opportunities.
Everyone likes to receive recognition for his or her hard work, especially when it pays off. An award ceremony is a win-win event where hard work is recognised, whether this is within an organisation or an industry, and people are inspired to achieve themselves.
An awards ceremony event can generate fantastic exposure for your client in a number of different ways. This can be through direct contact with influencers, increased brand awareness, and networking opportunities at the event itself.
Awards events also generate their own good news stories that are happily shared across industry publications. This coverage provides unbeatable PR and increased recognition for the award winners. Businesses and individuals that are nominated and receive awards will naturally want to share this information through their own channels. It spreads the message organically and naturally, giving your client and their sponsors widespread coverage.
Organising an Awards Ceremony
Planning an award ceremony can be daunting, mainly because you have to keep clients, sponsors and attendees happy and engaged throughout. This means planning and orchestrating an awards show down to the finest detail in order to achieve the desired outcome for all parties. You want to incorporate original and even unexpected elements to help keep everyone interested in proceedings.
A good way to improve your award ceremony planning is to put yourself in the position of a person that has not won an award. This will help focus your attention on making the event entertaining for everybody, for the duration of the programme.
Picking a theme for your award ceremony helps make it memorable and will assist with the planning. You will need to interpret your client’s brief creatively without ever losing sight of the overall objectives.
It’s important to build a relationship with your client so that you can effectively communicate their messaging during the event. The theme has to work with the brand and any sponsors to protect their reputations. A mismatch between your client’s values and the awards ceremony could be fatal.
The production of the event is where you earn the engagement. If you can create a sense of theatre then you can make the award ceremony feel special for those involved. This doesn’t meant that you have to have a big budget but it does mean you have to be creative. Your plans for the production should cover all aspects including set design, AV, lighting and entertainment.
It is important to know how you want the stage to look as this will be the primary focus for much of your event. This can be everything from the position of the lectern to what visuals to have on the screen, from which props to use to where to position brand and sponsor messaging.
Music and lighting when combined are often the best way of creating your desired atmosphere. Think very carefully about your choice of music and then get the AV technicians to work their magic.
Award ceremonies don’t have to be based around lavish sit-down banquets. Having said that, grumbling stomachs are not conducive to relaxed and fun evenings so be sure to provide some form of nourishment. You may want to consider a buffet with networking desserts as an alternative to a full meal.
It may fall within your remit to source keynote speakers for the awards ceremony – this can be anything from an MC to the presenter of a specific award. This is an important role and one that you should consider carefully.
Host / Speakers
It is important to use a host or MC for the award ceremonies that can carry the event. They will need to be comfortable speaking to large crowds whilst having the charisma and ability to connect on an individual basis. It usually works well if they are from within the organisation or a respected industry figure.
As part of the awards presentation, they will need to present a clear and engaging narrative as to why the recipient has won the award. A few things to be aware of is the importance of pronouncing the award recipient’s names correctly and holding and presenting the award with body language that imparts the award-giving with the gravity it deserves. You can always share these Presentation Tips for inspiration.
Your client may wish to have the individual award categories judged by relevant adjudicators. It can work well for these judges to introduce the key considerations before making the presentation of the award.
Your client is likely to have an initial list of people they want to attend the awards event. There may be scope for you to get involved in expanding the invite list. If this is the case you should consider inviting industry heads and influencers, people from trade press or perhaps, for an internal business awards, members of family.
Scheduling & Timing
The scheduling and timing of an awards programme is crucial to its overall success and should be planned meticulously. Here are some common issues to consider:
You want the speeches to impart the significance of proceedings whilst remaining brief and to the point – there is nothing worse than someone rambling on when time is of a premium and the audiences’ attention even more so. The balance between brevity and gravity is one you may wish to advise on. The ceremony should have both a rhythm and momentum – keeping things upbeat and moving forward. No one likes the experience of clapping until their hands feel sore so try and work on effective transitions between awards.
The Walk On
The time it takes someone to leave their seat and make their way to the stage can result in awkward lulls and sore hands. Plan around this by getting the speaker to make the announcement and then deliver the reasons why they have won the award as they make there way to the stage. This also avoids any awkward moments for the recipient, standing there as praise is heaped upon them. Suitable music and visuals will also help avoid any awkward gaps in proceedings.
Coming in on, or even better, under budget is a priority and a sure-fire way to get repeat business, especially when awards are often annual events. Meticulous planning and being hyper-aware to any hidden costs is essential.
Ensure that the location of your awards ceremony makes sense and is easily accessible for the majority of guests. Once you have an area in mind and know your budget, you can start to shortlist venues to visit and then present to your clients.
Is it the right size? Does it have all the facilities you require? Does the venue work with your client’s brand and event theme? Match the awards ceremony venue to both the personality of the event and the organisation hosting it, this kind of symbiosis goes some way to ensuring the success of your event.
Your client is likely to have sponsorship requirements to fulfil. Ensure you know exactly what is required so you can plan this into your awards event as soon as possible.
Documenting Your Award Ceremony
Given that an awards ceremony is a celebratory event, it makes sense to capture those special moments on film. If you have budget, hire someone to film people receiving their awards as well as crowd shots to capture the atmosphere. They can then edit a highlights package that can be shared with sponsors, on social media and kept for posterity by award winners.
London award ceremony planners visionevents suggest that “roaming cameras can capture great footage throughout the event, including any interviews with sponsors/guests/winners, and create a fabulous post event highlights video for you to share on your website, or use as promotional tools to secure those all important sponsors for future years.”
Virtual award ceremony
With the current situation surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on the events industry, it has become very hard to host physical award ceremonies. Although social distancing between tables is possible, contact between those at each table is still an issue and is seen as a transmission risk.
In addition, venues and organisers now have a heightened duty of care for their attendees to ensure that award ceremonies are at a capacity that does not put anyone’s safety at risk. Limited capacity restrictions for an award ceremony can be problematic as this type of event relies on the presence of invitees.
In spite of these restrictions event organisers and venues (20 Bedford Way included) have adjusted the delivery of award ceremony events to a virtual format. By leveraging the right blend of technology, organisation and equipment, you too can create a virtual award ceremony that’s engaging, enjoyable and 100% safe!
What is a virtual award ceremony?
A virtual award ceremony is a digital reconstruction of a regular award ceremony where the ceremony presenter and speakers are the only on-site physical component. Using a suitable platform, attendees and nominees can then stream and participate in the event remotely.
Why go virtual with your awards ceremony
As is the case with many virtual events, it is extremely important that companies, organisations and planners can adapt and embrace the concept of virtual ceremonies at this time.
Recognition – In this current period, many businesses and employees are working harder than ever, adjusting to the post-COVID business landscape. It’s crucial that hard work and achievement are acknowledged and rewarded to boost morale, motivation and engagement.
Many businesses are researching online award ceremonies for their employees as team motivation has become pivotal to business resilience. An award ceremony sends a message that people are still innovating and striving regardless of the current situation. Holding a virtual award ceremony allows us to show appreciation and keep spirits up at a time when they are needed most.
Togetherness – With most of the UK working from home offices, bedrooms and lounges, it can seem very disconnected from the usual experience. Without virtual award ceremonies, there would be no focal point for many industries where key figures can all come together for a recognised calendar event. Organising a virtual award ceremony is also hugely beneficial for team members and the workforce as it allows for a time where team members can stop, come together and give kudos to each other.
Revenue – Award ceremonies (external) are a great way to generate revenue as nominees will often gain exposure which they are happy to pay for in the form of a ticket. Virtual ceremonies can also have a limitless attendee list which means there’s the potential to generate more revenue from attendees from around the world.
Cost effective – Virtual award ceremonies can save an incredible amount of money. Food and catering is no longer required nor do you need to rent a large event space.
How to create a virtual awards event
Promotion and marketing
Promoting your online ceremony is essential as signups and participation will be the make or break of the event. LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram are all great platforms on which to promote the event and gain signups. The ins and outs of using social media to promote events is a subject within itself so for more information take a look at our article on using Facebook to market your event. Aside from focusing on attendee signups, you also need to attract applications for each award category. This requires a well crafted B2B email campaign working with LinkedIn ads to drum up interest in your niche.
Create your awards and event schedule
Make sure that you have your awards completely structured and decided. That is the number of categories, the award for each category, the shortlist of nominees for each category and the winner. The next step is to then use these awards to form a basic schedule for the evening upon which you can assign time limits to each stage. You also have an opportunity to tweak the format of an in-person event to make it more engaging for an online audience.
Decide on a venue
Deciding on a great venue is key to a successful virtual awards ceremony. Keep in mind that unlike a traditional award ceremony, size shouldn’t be the key factor since the venue only needs to accommodate a technical camera staff and the speakers, hosts and masters of ceremony. You need to look out for a venue that’s suitably equipped with the right AV equipment, cameras and technical staff that are experienced at delivering streaming events.
In many award ceremonies, organisers employ the use of pre-recorded segments as a way of breaking up the event and offering variety. Depending on the type of award ceremony this could be a feature on a certain business or an interview with a person of note. To make sure the virtual ceremony runs smoothly you must have any pre-recorded features queued up and ready to go at suitable intervals.
What are the best virtual awards ceremony platforms
Video streaming platforms are very important when delivering an online award ceremony. These range from the free services offered by Facebook live or Instagram all the way through to higher quality, more customisable options.
When selecting a platform for a commercial award ceremony you must remember that if people are paying for tickets, they expect the highest video, audio quality possible with seamless delivery. The key to delivering hit virtual events is to keep the audience engaged. Premium platforms are definitely worth the cost so consider some of the following:
- IBM Cloud Video
Quick tips on hosting a virtual awards ceremony
- Rehearse your speakers beforehand
- Check streaming equipment works
- Keep to timing
- Pay attention to stage design and presentability
- Make sure that hosts dress to impress
- Promote communication between shortlists by creating side rooms for them to chat, separate from the main event
- Run light-hearted side competitions for things like “best dressed”
- Make use of tactical muting and try to have minimal audio channels live at one time on the main event. This will allow you to avoid echo and audio overload.
Things to avoid when hosting a virtual awards ceremony
- Make sure control over main slide presentation is restricted so no disgruntled entrants can sabotage the screen with inappropriate content!
- If you choose to give category nominations a side room, make sure that once the winner is announced the live event is paused. This is so that the winner speech audio does not conflict with the background noise from the main event.
Awards Ceremony Venue London
20 Bedford Way has experience in hosting large scale awards ceremonies and graduations. We are extremely proud of how Logan Hall has been key to so many illustrious events and special moments over the years.
Production and AV hire as well as expert technicians is included in the hire costs of our flagship 910 seater Logan Hall theatre. Our team can help you achieve the visual impact with our large HD screen, 60 channel stage lighting with Selecon follow spot. We also have White and black cyclorama cloths available to assist in set design. In short, we have all you need for a corporate awards ceremony.
Call us today on 020 7612 6143 to find out more about our facilities and affordable rates.