If you’re wondering how to host an awards ceremony you’ve come to the right place. As you know a great awards ceremony can be a chance to flex your best PR muscles – they’re a popular feature on many industry calendars from the glitz of the Grammys through to less publicised (but no less important) internal events. Awards ceremonies celebrate achievement and showcase the best aspects of your company and industry. Most awards ceremonies fall into two main categories, internal and external.
Internal awards ceremonies are for a particular company or particular sector of industry. They’ll highlight achievements such as “Colleague of the Year” or “Most improved sales team”.
External awards ceremonies are generally on a larger scale and cover a wider section of an industry. This category includes events like the Oscars, as well as more specific awards ceremonies like the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Whichever type of awards ceremony you’re organising, the key to success is in the planning.
This article will explore the essentials including:
- Picking your theme
- Setting your budget
- Choosing your venue
- Choosing your awards host
- Promoting your awards ceremony
1. Pick a Theme
Choosing the theme for your awards ceremony is the cornerstone of your event. It works to reflect the purpose of the ceremony and offers a host of ways to create a memorable occasion. When you’re thinking about how to host an awards ceremony the best place to start is with the people being celebrated:
- What type of organisation is the ceremony for? Is it for a particular industry? A charity? A social group?
- Who will be coming to the event? A group of professionals will need a different level of formality than a community awards ceremony.
Once you’ve pinpointed the “whos” and “whys”, you can move on to the practicalities. Your venue will govern the options available to you, as will your budget. It’s important, to be honest about what’s possible right from the start, rather than having to compromise later down the line when you realise your grand stage show is simply too big for your space or spending power.
Choosing your theme is just the start – applying it is the thing that will make your awards ceremony sing. Weave your theme through every aspect of the event, from invitations and décor to your entertainment choice and food. It’s a great tool for marketing, and a springboard to start conversations on social media.
2. Set a Realistic Budget
It may seem a little odd to set your budget this late in the planning process, but understanding who the awards ceremony is for and what the theme is will help you make informed decisions about where to spend your money.
The first step is to create a planning tool – you could use a spreadsheet or an app. The most important thing is that you keep track of every expense. Let your team know the budget and keep them updated with any changes or concerns.
Once your planner is in place you can set to work on estimating your expenses.
- Venue: This can eat up the biggest chunk of your budget so it’s important to choose carefully.
- Speakers and Entertainment: This is another key expense when you’re planning and one that is essential to get right. It’s worth paying a little more for a quality host.
- Staff: Another key aspect and one that it’s tempting to scrimp on. Don’t give in – an understaffed event will be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
- Food and drink: Be flexible with your ambitions for food and drink. A simpler offering delivered to a high standard can be just as effective as a full formal dinner.
3. Choosing the Right Venue for Your Event
Armed with your budget, and a clear view of the theme and attendees, you can set about one of the most important aspects of planning an awards ceremony: choosing the perfect space. Follow these steps to get started:
- Draw up a shortlist of venues in your catchment area that meet your budget and capacity, as well as any special concerns such as a stage or food service.
- Visit the venue – Time is precious and it may be tempting to go by the descriptions and photos on the venue website, but there’s no better way to get an honest idea of a venue than stepping inside.
- Fill the room – A space for 300 with 150 people in it will feel awkward and make it look like people just haven’t turned up. Not a great start to an event as special as an awards ceremony.
- Accessibility – Be sure that the venue is accessible to everyone, including those with hidden disabilities.
- Technical capability – Be sure your venue can handle the tech aspects of your event – things like a lack of sockets and power will seriously impact the success of the ceremony.
4. Picking Your Awards Host
Picking your awards host is one of the most important tasks. You need someone who will entertain, empathise and enhance the evening for everyone. It can feel like an impossible task, but using something like a speakers bureau makes it easier to perfect this part of planning your event.
You can search for a host by interest, location and of course budget. Some speakers bureaux offer additional support such as finalising fees and helping with travel arrangements, leaving you free to focus on everything else. For help with choosing the perfect awards show presenter for your event, click here.
5. Promote the Ceremony
An effective PR campaign can create a buzz around the ceremony and generate positive publicity for your client. Your awards ceremony host is likely to be at the forefront of your promotion campaign but there are other aspects to consider. By this point in your planning you’ll have a good idea of your target audience and can build your marketing campaign accordingly. You may want to make use of social media ads and influencers as well as things like email and press releases.
Depending on the type of awards ceremony you may wish to create a dedicated website to allow you to generate excitement, and celebrate successes. It’s a good idea to hire a photographer too, so you can showcase the event and as a happy record for those who are part of it.