Whether you’re looking to boost employee satisfaction, celebrate industry achievements, or bring the top talent in your sector together under one roof, award ceremonies are the perfect event format by which to do so.
They’re also hugely popular, with thousands held each year across all industry sectors, and by organisations of all shapes and sizes. So how do you make yours stand out?
Here’s our top suggestions for producing a winning event.
Pick the right venue
Cost, location, size and availability will most likely be the deciding factors in where you hold your awards ceremony. But keep in mind that your venue sets the tone for the entire event, so be sure to shop around well in advance to avoid settling at the last minute.
By their very nature, award ceremonies are exclusive, upmarket events, and your chosen venue should reflect that. Conduct a thorough site visit to ensure it is clean, well laid out, not outdated and, crucially, in a suitable area. Talk to the venues event team and see what experience they have – you’ll want peace of mind that you’re in safe hands!
To create a truly memorable event, think outside the box when it comes to venue selection. A location with history or an educational venue, such as a museum, can provide an additional talking point among your guests. If considering an unconventional venue, it’s a good idea to ask your production company or AV supplier along to the site visit, so they can make sure all your technical requirements are possible within the space.
Consider theming your event
Typically, awards ceremonies are black tie events that allow guest to don their glad rags and celebrate in style. This standard dress code helps to reinforce the spectacle of the occasion, but it doesn’t necessarily make your event stand out from the crowd. To put a unique spin on your awards ceremony, consider framing it with a theme that generates an increased level of anticipation.
Picking a relevant and exciting theme is no easy task, so get the creative ball rolling by holding an ideas session. Take inspiration from other awards ceremonies, historical and notable occurrences within your sector, or timely factors such as the season or any well-known occasion taking place in the same year. If you have an appointed production company, chances are they have experience in event theming and will have some great ideas themselves.
Your theme could be as simple as a relevant word or phrase, or a full blown extravaganza, but it should carry through every aspect of the event – marketing collateral, invitations, décor, entertainment, music. Done well, theming your awards ceremony will provide a truly memorable evening for you and your guests.
Get creative with the production
Production is probably the most important element of a successful awards ceremony. Not only do you want the event to run smoothly and free of technical mishaps, you also want an impressive show.
Your budget will be the guiding factor in the level of production involved, but effective techniques don’t have to cost the earth. Inventive set and stage design can add a sense of theatre that takes your event to the next level, whilst clever use of lighting, such as moving lights and uplighters, can create an immersive atmosphere. For the ultimate wow factor (and if your budget allows), consider the use of super widescreens, digital banners, rolling social media walls or innovative technologies like projection mapping.
If you’re unsure as to the level of production you want to include, and how much you want to spend, ask your production company to produce two or three options at varying levels of complexity and price. That way you can make a well informed decision that makes the most of your event budget.
Provide added value
Throughout the planning stages, consider you event from an audience perspective. Whilst for many, recognition through a nomination is enough, not all your guests will walk away triumphant, so it’s important to make the experience worth their while. This is particularly important if your guests have paid to attend.
Obviously, you’ll want quality food and entertainment, but additional value can be provided by facilitating networking opportunities. Make sure your agenda provides ample time for attendees to mingle. Having the opportunity to mix with the best in their industry will ensure your guests benefit from their experience, winners or not.
Let the audience decide
Having reputable judges and a fair, transparent judging system is essential for any awards ceremony. But beyond this, why not consider the inclusion of a people’s award? Being recognised by fellow colleagues or industry peers gives attendees an added sense of achievement and increased pride.
To really ramp up the excitement, you could even host a people’s vote on the night itself using interactive live polling technology. This will not only add further anticipation, it will also encourage engagement and provide attendees with a sense of involvement, something that audiences increasingly look for at any event.
Capture it on film
With so much time and effort put into making your awards ceremony a success, it’s well worth it to stretch your budget a little further and capture it on film. Footage of the event not only makes for a nice keepsake. It can be used to create a highlights reel, reminding your guests of the occasion and promoting your message after the event itself. It can also be incredibly valuable as marketing content should your event be an annual occurrence, or part of a series.
Finally, by capturing your event on film, you have a reference point for future planning. Replaying the event with an objective mind will help you to identify areas that could be improved upon, making your next awards ceremony an even more spectacular production.
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