Creating your awards ceremony and dinner – three important elements

Award Dinners are not just for the rich and famous, at some point you will be invited to an award dinner or ceremony, often with more sparkles on the set design than your outfit!

Author: Buz Ross   |   Date: 1st February 2018

Often these events occur not only on their own but as part of larger events, such as AGMs and conferences. When you are planning and creating an event dinner you’ve so many things to consider to ensure that every person feels like a winner. To help you create that winning feeling, we’re going to look at some of the elements that make up an award dinner and ceremony.

Location, location, location

As we’ve said, these events tend to feature in two different set-ups and this has a big impact on your venue. They are either a stand-alone event, or as part of a larger event such as an AGM. If you are running an award dinner on its own you have much more flexibility on your location choices, so let’s look at that option first.

Firstly, does the venue match your awards, will your guests attending be inspired by the venue?

Does it need much dressing to match your occasion, or is it a destination in its own right?

Venues with their own distinct style, from ornate hotel ballrooms to bare brick warehouses are extremely popular as their environment is an occasion and desired destination. Many guests will see that as part of the appeal of attending the event. Often with venues such as these less cosmetic dressing will be required, so additional costs in hiring these venues will be compensated by saving on that element.

If you are running a ceremony and dinner as part of a larger event, the logistics of how the venue is laid out and the bits behind the scenes becomes paramount, especially when a room used for a conference at 4pm needs to be turned into a stunning awards dinner starting at 8pm.

These factors need to be built into the at the very start of the project, as they will change how the event will run and fit in around the other elements of the overall event.

Slotting one event into another can cause problems, however the limitations can create advantages. You are saving money on a venue, so that budget can be spent on something else instead; always look at the positives rather than the negatives.

The positives are that you will probably have your audience there and ready, and they won’t have to rush off at the end of the event either, so the atmosphere will probably be better. This can make a huge difference to the event itself, as your audience will already be comfortable in each other’s company and been looking forward to the event together.

You will also have an AV production team on site, so that element is also in place and as you are probably based in a hotel or conference centre, your food and drink is in place too, so even though your room will have to be re-designed the advantages will make up for that.

Setting the scene

The majority of your audience is there to be entertained and amazed, in so many different ways. From potentially winning an award through to supporting colleagues and friends, or depending on the event they could be people who’ve paid to be there through a sponsor table. However, they need to be wowed and leave at the end of the night feeling like it was the best night ever!

This can be achieved in many ways; using a theme, set and stage design, lighting and sound design, and the overall decoration of the room.

Looking at one of these elements, sound and lighting design, you can create a vibrant atmosphere and turn a venue from feeling cold and uninviting into an environment which feels opulent and rich.

By using a mixture of lighting and other effects, for example, a mixture of uplighters, moving lights and haze machines you can lead your guests into the room with maximum impact. Once seated the lighting can change and by used to lead the guests’ eyes and attention to the stage with more subtle lighting on each table.

Of course, music has a big impact with this too, both with setting the scene when people arrive, to walk-on music for each award and award winner.

Walk-on music is an area where you can make the winner feel even more special; working with your AV team you can choose specific or special music for each winner – this could be something very personal for them and complete their experience.

Most AV production managers will help you choose music if you are unsure on what would work best; your own musical tastes might not work quite so successfully as you would hope!

With sound too, you can also consider using a ‘voice of God’ effect too. This works well to create a more impressive atmosphere and take some of the pressure off the presenters on stage.

Ladies and Gentlemen…

A big part of the awards dinner is of course handing out the awards, but how should you do this?

I’ve just mentioned using a ‘voice of god’ but you still need a compère or presenter to do the legwork on stage.

Depending on the event you might have a CEO, MD or head of your charity or association that is comfortable with completing this role, or instead, do you have people who would run as fast as possible from the thought of using a microphone?

You could consider hiring a compère who not only does all the presenting duties but also acts as a warm-up act before the event, runs the event on stage and keeps it flowing and then afterwards can do some stand-up or introduce the entertainment.

If you don’t want to go down that route, you could find a presenter who has a link to the subject matter of the awards, someone who could do a talk before the awards and maybe do a Q&A afterwards. This is very much tied into the theme and type of event you are running, but it can hold the audience attention much more than a traditional presenter.

There are so many more things to consider for award dinners, we haven’t even thought about food and drink and without doubt at least one of those is extremely important to all guests. We’ll be looking at more events types soon!

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