Awards ceremonies come in all shapes and sizes – from corporate luncheons and industrial trade show events, to glittering galas and everything in between. When it comes to planning an awards event, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Whatever your event style, there are plenty of things you can do to create a great experience for everyone in attendance while also maximizing the opportunity to garner valuable positive exposure for your organization, your honorees, and beyond.
Here are a few simple tricks to help you make the most of your next awards presentation.
1. Connect Your Crowd
Opportunities to network and make meaningful connections are among the top reasons people attend professional events. Be sure to create time and space to allow attendees to mix and mingle. Plan some pre-ceremony time for an opening reception or a pre-dinner cocktail hour. When thinking about your event venue, consider a seating arrangement that will promote conversation and camaraderie. You may also want to design a layout with a bar or refreshment area away from the main event seating to provide a breakaway space where people can chat without being disruptive or distracting to others.
2. Make it Fun
Awards ceremonies don't have to be stuffy. Even the formal ones. We give awards to honor greatness and commemorate victories. Awards are celebratory; it's okay to have a little fun — especially if your awards presentation is a social event, which many are.
There are plenty of ways to make sure a great time is had by all without sacrificing the integrity of the event – hire a comedian or professional entertainer to emcee or help inject some (appropriate) light-hearted humor into your script; provide live music or a special performer for a portion of the evening; or bring in a live artist or interactive artisan to create something one-of-a-kind for guests to enjoy or even take home as a personal memento. If you really want to go big, get creative and design your whole event around a fun theme. From the décor and entertainment, to the menu and the attire, themed events can be a great way to create a truly immersive and memorable experience for all involved.
3. Make it Sharable
Adding photo stations like a red carpet photo-opp with a branded backdrop, renting a traditional photo booth with silly props, or offering a 360º booth that captures short-form video shots (a particularly nice option for fashionable black-tie or themed attire events) can be another easy and relatively inexpensive way to facilitate some social fun – AND some social sharing! You can even customize the photos with a branded overlay specially designed to showcase your event. Typically, these images will be printed and/or provided digitally on the spot, so you can expect to start seeing your attendees' smiling faces — and your brand — lighting up social media pretty quickly.
Photo station or no, an awards event is the perfect opportunity to put the "social" back in social media. Maximize your (and your guests') social media reach by making it easy to connect and engage – with your brand and each other. Take the guesswork out of social sharing and avoid accidentally misdirected posts by thoughtfully promoting your social media handles, designated hashtags, and location tagging information. Consider making your social media info easily accessible at the event by including it in your printed programs or by creating special signage to display in key areas around the space.
4. Tell Your Award-Winning Stories
While the suspense and surprise of a live, envelope-opening award reveal can add an element of excitement to an awards show, it isn't always the most feasible option. For a number of practical reasons, many organizations prefer to notify award winners and other special honorees of their awardee status prior to the official award presentation.
Among the benefits of alerting your awardees in advance is the added opportunity to shine a spotlight on their success stories and involve them in the promotion for the big event. Honoree photos, bios, and award-winning achievements are nice to include in your event's program. It can also be mutually beneficial to publicly announce your award recipients and feature their stories on your company or event website, newsletter, social media, or even via press release.
You might also consider inviting your honorees to participate in video interviews, which can be used to create a special video montage for the occasion.
5. Do Some Good
Special events like awards shows, banquets, and galas can be a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and some needed funds for a worthy cause. Charitable collaborations can be mutually beneficial for both organizations involved. Consider joining forces with an aligned nonprofit organization to add a cause marketing component to your event.
Donating proceeds from ticket sales, offering raffles, silent auctions, and getting creative with sponsorship opportunities are just a few easy and tasteful ways to incorporate fundraising while still keeping the primary focus on your awards ceremony.
6. Get Creative with Award Categories
There's something to be said for tradition - especially when it comes to awards ceremonies. Awards celebrate – and incentivize – achievements; awards for rewarding top sales performances, celebrating acts of leadership or philanthropy, or recognizing dedication with service awards and best attendance awards are all popular for a reason.
The tried and true classics will never go out of style, but that doesn't mean you have to stick exclusively to predictable basics. Spruce up your awards roster with clever award titles unique to your brand, or keep things fresh by adding a new category or two each year. In addition to keeping things interesting, adding awards categories (and award winners) can also help increase ticket sales and extend your marketing reach as individual honorees happily (and humbly, of course) share their accolades.
7. Extend Meaningful Moments with Memorable Pieces
The awards you present are the signature of your show. Dazzle your guests and capture special memories with distinctive pieces that are equal parts award and work of art.
Whether you prefer the timeless elegance of crystal or the wow-factor of colorful art glass, our team of in-house artists and designers make it easy to design beautiful, show-stopping awards that your celebrated guests of honor will display with pride and cherish for a lifetime.
8. Pair White Gloves with Black Ties
Hosting a formal banquet or black-tie gala? Your esteemed guests will be dressed to impress… why not dress up your awards presentation a bit, too? Elevate your honorees' experience by presenting their awards with white glove service.
At Awarding You, all of our awards are shipped with a pair of pristine white gloves for careful handling... and, well... because we think award-worthy achievements deserve to be commemorated with a little extra sophistication and style. After all – as your fashionable guests know, no formal look is complete without the right accessories.
9. Ease Travel Concerns
Sometimes travel can be a challenge – in more ways than one. Remove some of the burden from your celebrated guests when distance is a factor. Awards are able to be shipped to any destination – or number of destinations – that you specify. Direct shipping to a home or office is a great option for honorees who are unable to attend in person, or those having to travel to participate. Awardees can be presented with a blank or partially engraved (branding only) award on stage, while their actual award is securely packed and safely delivered to wherever they would like it to go - no cumbersome carry-ons or airport security headaches required.
10. Thank Guests with a Gift
Though not all of your guests will be formally honored, you can still make sure everyone who attends walks away feeling valued. Providing a small attendance gift for each guest is a nice way to show that your organization appreciates everyone who made the time and effort to participate. Ensuring everyone goes home with a little something to remember the occasion can also be a great way to create a lasting positive association with your brand.
Consider putting together a fun "swag bag" containing a variety of thoughtfully curated items. Your swag bag may include a few tasty treats along with a selection of small gifts that tie in with your event's theme such as complimentary products or branded pieces provided by your organization or sponsoring partners.
Attendance gifts can also be a single item, such as a glass or crystal paperweight, in a simple, yet elegant style reminiscent of the larger glass awards or crystal award statues presented at the event. Like your awards, gifts of this nature can be custom engraved with your logo, the name and date of your event, or other text of your choosing.
Ready to start planning your awards event? We're here to help!