How to Organise an Awards Ceremony
Whether its MTV’s Video Music
Awards, the Grammys or Oscars, big
award ceremonies conjure up images
of glitz, glamour, celebrities, fashion
and outrageous antics worthy of the
newspaper front pages.
In the real world, there are many
reasons to hold an awards ceremony,
whether it’s to celebrate the efforts of
your community, to champion your
staff or to provide a networking
opportunity for your industry peers.
Holding an awards ceremony, on
whatever scale you can afford, shows
your staff or community their work is valued. The recognition also motivates people to excel and
instils healthy competition amongst your workforce.
An awards ceremony also provides everyone with a chance to reflect on the previous year, what you
have achieved and what your goals are for the coming months.
From budget planning to traffic management, here are our top tips for planning an awards
You first of all need to decide how much you are able to spend on your event. If your company or
charitable organisation has a big budget you may be able to consider something grander, but smaller
organisations may need to be more creative with their cash. Finalising your budget will determine
the number of guests, the venue, the menu, what drinks you can serve, what type of awards you can
present alongside any prizes as well as who your compere and guest speakers will be.
Before you plan anything you need to decide where to hold your event. You will need to consider
what type of event your budget will allow and
whether it will be a large-scale, black tie affair
with a luxurious dinner or something more
informal and intimate.
The number of people you plan to invite will play a
key part in selecting your venue. If you want to
hold a small scale event for a specific division or
department at your company you could consider
using a presentation room in your existing offices
or erecting a marquee in the garden or grounds.
If you want to do something grander, why not consider your local town hall, theatre or a nearby
hotel? You will need to consider if the venue can offer everything you practically need from tables,
chairs, a podium or stage, audio-visual equipment and kitchen facilities for any food you want to
serve. What you definitely need to do is take measures concerning traffic management, security and
crowd control, so that accessing and attending the event doesn’t end up in a media fiasco. The
easiest and most cost-effective thing to do is to hire temporary barriers and traffic control systems!
3. Certificate or statue?
Whether it’s a dazzling statuette, like winners receive at the Golden Globes, or an iconic figurine
awarded to musicians at the MTV Awards, the type of award you present will help not only add
character to your event but provide something covetable for your nominees to strive to win.
The award should complement the action being rewarded, so winners of a community or charity
award may prefer a monetary contribution to their project or charity rather than a gold-plated
statuette! If you are running a business award you may want to present something more corporate
and professional, such as a glass award for the company to keep alongside a framed certificate for
the individual winner.
Don’t forget your awards’ logo and/or colour scheme should be prominently displayed so it becomes
an iconic and well-recognised part of your event.
Most award ceremonies hire a compere or celebrity to introduce the nominees, announce the
winners and to help entertain guests. For a low budget affair this could be your company director or
local radio presenter. National, large scale events would benefit from a household name to present
the awards such as a comedian or TV star.
Guests will also expect some kind of entertainment, whether it’s an inspirational guest speaker
relevant to your industry, a comedian, singer or band.
If your awards ceremony is an evening event and goes on into the night, don’t forget to book a DJ or
musician to entertain your guests until last orders.
5. Music and lighting
The music and lighting you use will complement the design and tone of your event. The music and
lighting effects can be used to transform the ambience of your venue and make the event feel more
magical. For those on a small budget you could hire some mobile lighting or for a grander event you
could use spotlights and laser lights to jazz up the atmosphere.
You need to ensure the music you select compliments the mood and tone of your event. For
example, there’s no point playing chart music as winners collect their awards if it’s a formal, black tie
affair. You need to ensure you use music to accompany the arrival of guest speakers, winners
collecting their award and any conclusion of intervals. You need to keep it upbeat, positive and
energetic without being overwhelming.
How your event will look will depend on your budget and venue. For example, if you have an
extensive budget and a grand venue you can afford to have beautifully set tables, big screens,
bespoke props and extensive light displays. You could consider having a theme for your event if it
will be held annually.
However, the challenges really do occur when trying to design an event with a tight budget.
Branding is key to any event so your charity, organisation or company logo as well as your corporate
colours should be displayed prominently.
Don’t forget your key supporters and sponsors as they will expect to see a good return on their
investment. Taking advantage of the screens during the quieter times during breaks or dinner is a
great way to showcase sponsor logos and thank everyone involved without intruding on the guests’
7. Videos and photography
The focal point of your event should be showcasing your nominees and winners and the best way to
let everyone attending the event know what they have achieved is to video and photograph the
people involved. Your video production company can pull together your organisation or charity’s
branding to create a package of videos and still images to illuminate the screens when the nominees
or the winner is announced.
If your event is much smaller and you can’t afford to recruit a video production company, why not
ask your firm’s press or marketing officer to hire a camera and video the nominees talking about the
work they do themselves? Or perhaps you could ask media or journalism students from your city’s
college or university to help you with the production, so you are helping nurture talented young
You also need to remember that there’s no point organising your event if you are not recording any
of it for the future. Why not ask your video production company or student videographers to film or
photograph the event for your organisation’s website, marketing and PR?
8. Promoting your event internally and externally
Don’t forget to tell everyone about your event and to promote the good work of your employees or
charity volunteers even further by inviting the media along. Whatever the size of your company,
using the local, regional and national media to showcase the achievements of your employees or
volunteers will show your contemporaries and industry peers that you value your workforce and
have lots to celebrate.
You can also us any video and photographs you take at the event on your website and your PR team
can utilise them to generate media coverage from any TV, radio and print journalists who couldn’t