Awards ceremonies are
meant to be lively, celebratory events, but more often than not,
they are formulaic and downright boring. Consider the mother of all
award shows, the Academy Awards, which is probably the most talked
about, costly and publicized awards ceremony on the planet. But
isn’t it really tedious, too?
If you want to make your awards program
more compelling than forgettable, take note of the common
afflictions that ail such events. Following is a prescription for
curing the boredom and rote nature of these programs.
Prescription: Focus on
purpose. Are you giving winners or attendees a reason to care about
who wins? Are you attempting to link the awards ceremony to the
messages, goals and objectives of the program, or has this segment
of the show become an afterthought? The purpose of an awards
ceremony is to applaud the people responsible for making your
company a success. Why would you neglect the mechanisms for such
Awards should encourage outstanding
behavior, business practices or team spirit that ultimately
supports the revenue goals of your company or organization. They
can honor internal staff, partners, sponsors, distributors, sales,
the awards portion of your pro-gram in the early brainstorming
meetings. If your company messaging underscores and rewards
quality, values or creativity, your awards ceremony should reflect
these values. With earlier consideration, the presentation of
awards can be designed and integrated cleverly. Keep in mind, if
this has not been done for years (if ever), you might need to
completely reconceptualize the awards.
Prescription: Take a
colossal leap of faith and break with tradition. You need to go so
far as to imagine your awards ceremony without chairs, without a
stage, without a master of ceremonies, and then possibly even
without awards. Some ideas:
* Switch time. Do you
squeeze the awards ceremonies into one of your general sessions?
Your general session probably is too long already. Consider holding
the awards on the exhibit floor or in staggered and dramatic
“reveals” at breakfast, lunch or at the evening reception. Think
like a museum curator, and place giant replicas of your awards in
high-traffic areas that you can hide beneath elegant drapes and
ultimately uncover at designated or random intervals.
* Make mementos
meaningful. Are you still giving out crystal blobs or
wooden plaques to winners? Get creative with awards.
Environmentally aware companies might give out an award crafted of
beautifully recycled material, or a philanthropic award -- for
example, “adopting” an endangered species animal such as a polar
in the name of the winner or winning firm.
* Change names. Does
your awards program have “Star” or “Leadership” in its name? Choose
a more interesting name (e.g., Apex, Innovator, Discovery) that
supports your company’s messaging or core values.
* Extend honors. Does
the recognition of the award end after the announcements are made?
Reinforce the achievement in other ways. In addition to immediately
announcing the winners on your website and flashing their names
across e-mail kiosks, print congratulatory announcements in
unexpected places such as on water bottle bands (for mere cents per
bottle) and on customized granola bar wrappers at the next coffee
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is senior event operations manager with
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos,