Planning an awards ceremony can be a daunting task. With so many different things to think about, working out how to plan an awards ceremony can take up a lot of time and organisation. There are many different things to consider and thorough preparation is key in organising a flawless awards ceremony.
So if you are looking for a little guidance, or maybe even some awards ceremony ideas, take a look at our awards ceremony checklist that can help you plan and execute the perfect ceremony that will honour your winners at an event to remember.
You should define the event objectives and the profile of your audience. What is the format, style and atmosphere of the ceremony? What are the brand guidelines and theme that you have to adhere to? Prepare a timeline and budget and make sure that each component is itemised and trackable. You should also agree deadlines with all those involved and make sure that all stakeholders are briefed in. You should produce a detailed schedule of the running order with actions from setup to dismantling and outline who is responsible for what and when.
Perhaps the most important part of any awards ceremony checklist, the budget is a vital part of the planning process and can help you to determine the size and style of your event. Think about budget for venue, food and drink as well as the awards themselves. A limited budget will require additional creativity and you should avoid unnecessary gimmicks. Make sure you allow for a contingency as well; 10% is a reasonable denomination.
Important questions to ask yourself:
- Who is receiving your awards?
- Why have you chosen these people?
- Is there any background information you need on your winners?
- How are you choosing and judging your winners?
- What will the awards look like? Be sure to match the style of the awards to the theme of the evening and keep a few extra awards on hand just in case.
- When? Is there an obvious time of year for your awards ceremony e.g. end of a fundraising year or annual conference? Does this date work for the important people that are key for your event? Does it clash with any other events that your guests might attend?
Check out the venue thoroughly:
- What is the capacity of the venue?
- Find out if your desired format works within the space and that you have clear sightlines to the stage.
- What does the space look like and what are the options for stage design and lighting? Don’t forget to ask about any catering options that they have.
- Will you have exclusive use of the venue or will there potentially be another event happening simultaneously?
- What catering options do they provide?
- Think about how easy the venue is to access and how can your guests get there by car and by public transport. (Check if there are possible parking facilities)
- What facilities does the venue have?
- Are there any options to add extra rooms for a welcome or reception area?
- Learn what the exact cost of the venue will be (what is and isn’t included) and if there are any service charges.
- Do you need to use their vendors or can you bring your own?
- What are the time limitations?
Think about what kind of lighting you want, think about the mood of the event and how you want the lighting to represent that. Also consider if you want to include your company colours in the lighting.
Never underestimate the importance of your stage design:
- How do you want your stage to look?
- How will this fit in with the chosen venue?
- Think of where your host and podium need to be and where awards may be presented.
- Think about how you want to incorporate your branding into the overall stage design if at all.
- Do you want to go all out with the company logo or are you looking to incorporate your branding in a subtle way?
If you have people coming up the stage to accept awards, think carefully about how easy the stage is to access and exit. Seat nominees at various places across the seating plan and make sure you know where your winners are located.
Sound and Video
Keep the tech in check!
- Think about how the presentation of the awards will work, think about if you are using a podium or loose microphones and how these will be monitored throughout the evening.
- Is there someone on hand on the evening itself if something goes wrong with the audio?
- Are the broadband and WiFi connections suitable for your event’s requirements?
Incorporating video into your awards ceremony can be a great way to learn more about the winners or show some highlights of what has been happening over the past year. Interviews with winners, judges and sponsors can be used as promotional material for future events. Check what is possible at your venue in terms of equipment.
Consider what type of person you are looking for to host your event, pick someone who is confident in front of a crowd. It’s also a good idea to pick someone who has hosted these events before as they have a good idea of how to move the night along. Fully brief the host so they know their audience and about the agenda of the event. A calm and engaging presenter will ensure your guests are entertained.
Event Speakers & Entertainment
Give guidelines for the speakers about the theme of the event as well as how long they have to speak. Keep the entertainment in line with the theme of the event. Use script cards that are branded on the back which can be seen on by the audience and on camera if the event is being recorded. Use an autocue if necessary. For the entertainment, keep the acts in line with the key messages and allow time for guests to talk and mingle. Do you require a green room for the entertainment and is this possible at your chosen venue.
What is the mood of your event? Will it be an evening awards dinner or informal luncheon? The dress code should reflect this. Make it clear on the invitations!
Equipment and furniture:
- Does the venue require you to use their own suppliers or do you need to hire your own caterer?
- Will you need extra equipment for the staging or can the venue supply that?
- What is the furniture like, does it fit your theme or do you need to look into hiring your own furniture.
Work out a detailed program of events and make sure that the staff are fully briefed on timings and transitions. Allow sufficient time in the program for food to be served, eaten and cleared away during the evening; you don’t want food to start coming from the kitchen in the middle of someone’s speech.
One way to make sure that the event goes off without a hitch is to practice, practice and practice again. Make sure that the staff are briefed on how the event will run, where the nominees and winners are sat in the room as well as what is happening with food and the entertainment you have planned for the evening.
Create a promotion and media schedule for your event. Produce promotional material that you can use both online and offline. Think about the various angles for newsworthy coverage – can you team up with a sponsor or is there charity support? The host or guest speaker may be a celebrity as well as potentially the judges. Highlight when the entries are opening and closing. Think about social media coverage and how your attendees can help to create buzz by using a specific hashtag that you have created for your event.
Who will be on the press list? Send out press invitations in plenty of time, and include some information about the event, the judges and the winners. Encourage the press and relevant influencers to help increase brand awareness. What are the rules for the use of photos? Can people use flash photography for example? Some older buildings don’t allow this so it’s important to check with the venue when you are booking.
Keep a close eye on social media; look at what people said about your event. What did they enjoy, what photos did they take? It’s important to make a note of these to help you work out what went well, which can then help form part of your awards ceremony checklist for your next event.