How to Manage Award Ceremonies

Courtesy of Laughing Squid

One of the most challenging things in events management is keeping an awards ceremony entertaining and fun for both the awardees and audiences. In my lifetime, I have witnessed far too many ill-conceived and executed dinners with award presentations to name. All kinds of atrocities can occur when one doesn't pay sufficient attention to the details.

So what should one do to prevent a major slip up in the Singapore version of the grammys?

1) Limit the number of speeches and keep them short and sweet. As a general rule, I find that two speeches (one by the host and another by the Guest Of Honour) is about as much as anyone can take. After all, the reason for any awards ceremony is to honour the recipients and not the hosts.

2) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Don't make your stiletto wearing ladies in their slinky black dresses fall flat on their faces while walking up the stage, or look as lost as a fish out of water. Go through all the steps involved in the award presentation and train your awardees to follow the exact sequences as much as possible.

3) Location, location, location! In this case, we are talking about marking the exact spots where the Guest Of Honour is supposed to stand, the recipient is supposed to stand and where the exchange of trophies/medals/certificates are supposed to take place. Don't assume that everybody knows where to stand. They don't - not without practice and something to tell them so.

4) Pay attention to the lights. This may sound deceptively simple but can be quite devilishly difficult to execute well. Closely supervise your lighting crew and make sure that the spot lights are shining on the right person - not that gorgeous hunk in the tight tee! Don't use disco lighting when nobody is dancing on the stage, or leave the lights on when the opening video is screening.

5) Let music soothe the savage beast, not irritate it! In a prize presentation ceremony, the music, sound effects and other audio tricks should be orchestrated to synchronise with stage proceedings. As much as possible, blend your soundtrack with the nature of the event.

6) Beware of the Kodak Moments. The photo sessions during or after an award presentation can be a tricky thing to manage. Don't catch people unaware - a sleepy or startled look isn't exactly flattering for most. Do also be efficient when lining people up with the Guest Of Honour for the group photo and make sure that everybody knows where to stand.

7) The night may be young but please don't go on forever. Most people who attend a prize or award ceremony are usually there for one of three reasons:

i) They are a prize or award winner.
ii) They are a sponsor.
iii) They came to support the award winner.

People rarely go to award ceremonies just for pure entertainment so keep it within a reasonable length. If there are 200 recipients that night, find a way to make it move quickly without having to recite each and every single solicitation ad nauseum.

8) Be systematic and process oriented. Make sure that you have a way of accounting for last minute "no shows" or absentees when updating the list of names to be called. Also check, double check and triple check as much as possible that the right award goes to the right person. In the event that it doesn't, do your best to rectify it at the earliest convenient slot.

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