Show Me How To Give an Effective Award Presentation

Awards are wonderful things. 

They are the most valuable possessions in the world to the people who receive them. 

Awards straddle between recognition and rewards in that they recognize an individual or team and may include a trophy and a reward. For what we will discuss here, they also provide a means to publicly honor the best of the best either through earned merit, length of service, or through an adjudication of a nomination.  

People will dress up for award events. They may even take the day off to prepare. People look forward to awarding ceremonies for weeks ahead.

You should know by now that award presentations are a big deal and so you had better get them right. Here’s how to prepare to give an effective award presentation. 

Your goal with any award event and presentation is to orchestrate as much as you can to make it an experience to remember for each award recipient. 

Whether it is a sales award, a career milestone award, or an award of excellence, you must plan out how you will honor the award recipients. 

Focus on the Award Purpose 

You need to answer the “why” question. Ask yourself, and your award committee members, why are we honoring these employees we are presenting awards to?

When you know the purpose of the awards and the event, this will help everyone be better prepared. And when you are presenting the award, rivet the reason for it in your mind.

It will cause you to think about what you should remember to make the award presentation a special event. 

For example, an employee’s length of service has been their life’s contribution to making a difference. What investigative digging can you do ahead of time to learn about their contributions.

With a formal award of excellence, you have people’s concentrated efforts to comply with and meet all the criteria associated with the area of expertise the award represents. That’s a big deal. Make sure you tell the story on the stage.

Find out the positive attributes of the individual being awarded. Share these within the presentation.

It is also important to discover what is most meaningful in the award recipient’s work and to honor them for it. They are winners for lots of reasons. You need to highlight these strengths for others to emulate. 

Show The Proof of Award Winners 

Most employees in your organization have never paid attention to what it takes to win an award. 

Before presenting the award, tell everyone the criteria for meriting this award. Focus on the main achievements and qualities needed to persevere and win the award. 

People need to understand why this person’s contributions or performance are above and beyond. Give people a chance to see how their work has shown a level of excellence for the organization.

Briefly explain the award nomination criteria and the challenge judges have on adjudicating nominations. Show how the individual’s or team’s nomination was exceptional. This helps guide the quality of future submissions. You can even share pertinent comments from the judges on what stood out for them. Describe how their performance and award activities benefit the organization. 

Make No Small Plans 

Part of the successful presentation of employee awards at ceremonies and award events is the planning that goes into them. It will take a team of people. Create templates and checklists to replicate this again. And always be willing to improve upon and make changes. 

Consider who to invite to the award ceremony. Are there important past colleagues to invite? Should you include and reach out to family and friends? 

Think about and ask what the honoree would like to have happen. Some of these factors, along with more virtual work scenarios, may dictate the best place to hold the awards event.

Foremost is checking with the award recipient to see if they are okay with this being a public event or not. For example, some people just prefer a small private affair.

Finding the right place and setting can add to the whole award experience. No matter if in person or online, remember to capture this special occasion on camera or video and send the award recipient copies afterward. 

Do Everything To Personalize Awards 

The intent of every award event is to make people feel special. One important way to do that is to use the award recipient’s preferred name versus their given name on the books. A person’s name is music to their ears. Make sure you have the correct spelling and pronunciation, too.

Work with leaders and colleagues ahead of time to learn the individual’s history with the organization. There might be a backstory tale to tell in those gems you discover. 

It can be the little things that make an award presentation meaningful. Like finding out why they selected their particular award gift for their career milestone award. 

You can make an occasion magical by getting just the “right” person to attend and make the presentation. In most case it will be their immediate manager or an organizational leader. Your task is the make this a memorable experience for the recipient. So, if finding a leader or manager from their past to be on stage will do it, make it happen. 

Getting Down to the Presentation 

You cannot be a boring stuff shirt when presenting someone their award. This should never be a shake and grin event where people receive the award shake hands and leave. The award recipient should be on cloud nine when they walk off the stage or off the screen. 

Think about this concept: What is one thing you can do to turn this award event into a celebration versus a presentation?

Connect this person’s contributions to the organizational values and thank them for their example. Make sure you are well prepared with what to say and do. Sincerely and specifically, thank the individual for all that they have done for the organization and for specific individuals or teams. 

Everything about this award hinges on how you present it. Presenting this award can make a lasting impression on a person. Or it can ruin everything they hold dear to them about the organization.

The task you face in presenting an award is making positive memories with everything you do for this honoree. Treat them as a star celebrity, because on the day you present their award, they really are the hero being celebrated. 

Always remember to acknowledge the award winner or recipient’s achievements and acknowledge the grand difference they have made to specific people and the organization at large.

Presenting an award to someone is no small order. Yet, with this opportunity, you have the chance to make it the most memorable and motivational experience in someone’s life. That has to be the best job anyone can look forward to. 

Recognition Reflection: Do you consistently evaluate your award presentations and change them as needed?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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