If you’ve ever attended an awards ceremony, it’s likely you have a love/hate relationship with the events. While it’s always nice to see colleagues, friends, or family receive recognition for their achievements, lackluster meals and endless speeches can leave you wanting to RSVP “no thanks” to the next invitation you receive.
It doesn’t have to be this way. With some creative planning, you can produce an awards ceremony that people actually want to attend even when they aren’t receiving an award. In fact, when your awards event is as exciting as getting the recognition itself, it can actually spur people within your company to work harder toward getting an award.
This doesn’t mean you need to bring in fire jugglers or trapeze artists, either (although it’s not entirely out of the question.) Planning an award ceremony that gets people excited mainly comes down to providing value and making the event fun and unexpected. The following tips can help you do just that.
1. Build the Event Around the Theme
Every great party has a theme, and an awards ceremony is no different. And no, “Awards Ceremony” is not a theme. Even major televised events like the Academy Awards or the Grammys often have themes, however loose, that tie the whole event together. As you plan your company’s event, don’t be afraid to be creative and structure the event around something unexpected. The theme –whether it’s a circus, a luau, or black-tie elegance – can inform all of your decisions from venue to food to entertainment, making the event more interesting and compelling people to attend – and talk about it.
2. Add Value
Although you don’t want to detract from the purpose of the event and make the awards themselves an afterthought, giving attendees a reason to attend will keep them engaged. Consider incorporating a compelling guest speaker, prize drawings, or even a fun workshop into the awards ceremony to entice people to come and keep them interested. Entertainment is also key. If attendees know they’ll be able to dance to a great band after the ceremony and have a chance to mingle with others before and after, they’re going to have a much better time than if the entire event consists of handing out awards.
3. Present Beautiful Awards
If you’re going to the trouble to plan a special award ceremony, put some thought into the actual award themselves. Certificates or small plaques are always appreciated but offering beautiful crystal awards ups the “wow” factor and will get people talking. Not to mention, people are much more likely to display an impressive award, and the natural fear of missing out may motivate some people to work toward earning one for themselves.
4. Create “Big Moments”
Incorporating an element of surprise into the awards ceremony with big moments can keep people guessing and engaged in the event. Keeping the award recipients a secret until the ceremony is always a good way to increase anticipation, but you can take it a step further by incorporating other surprises. For example, a surprise guest to present the award – such as the person’s mentor or a family member – can make the event more meaningful. Or present a photo or video tribute before giving the award, highlighting the recipient’s contributions. The idea is to turn the award presentations into memorable moments, rather than simply handing out certificates and handshakes.
5. Select the Right Venue and Host
The venue where you host your awards ceremony can make or break the entire event. Within your budget constraints, consider hosting the event in an interesting or unusual location, such as a museum or historic home. Look beyond the conference room or banquet hall to increase interest in the event. And choose the event host carefully. A great event host does more than just announce winners. A host needs to keep the show moving, entertaining the audience along the way. There’s an art to hosting and choosing the wrong host for your awards ceremony could result in a dry, boring event that people can’t wait to leave.
When you’re handing out significant awards to your team, the awards ceremony is often as important as the recognition itself. A special event tells your honorees that they really matter and creates a special memory. Even if you have a limited budget, you can still incorporate some of these ideas to produce an event that people talk about for years to come.