Catherine Grinyer

January 20, 2022

How to Create a Virtual Award Ceremony and Make it Accessible

If there is one type of event that has particularly lost out as a result of the pandemic, it is award ceremonies. Usually occasions filled with mingling and celebrating with peers, awards ceremonies have either been postponed or have hastily made the move online. Many awards owners worried that the shift to online would not deliver the same feel-good factor as the much-loved in-person events. With a few virtual awards programmes under our belt, we’re now big fans and we’re keen to share what we think are the three vital ingredients for making your virtual awards ceremony the must attend event of the season.

1: The Script

The script is where it all starts and finishes and it pulls your whole ceremony together. We can’t emphasise the importance of a good script. Get started on writing it as early as possible, and make it a shared document so that you can get some additional viewpoints. Think carefully about the pace and duration of the show, ask yourself is your audience realistically going to tune in for any longer than 45-60 minutes? A good place to start is to work out how many categories you’ve got to showcase and how best to give everyone a turn in the spotlight. Planning the script well in advance gives you the time to think about who is presenting and allows you to plan in rehearsals if needed. Having a strong Master of Ceremonies (it doesn’t need to be a celebrity if budgets are tight) and a diversity of category presenters will add to the mix.

2: Pre-record ‘As-Live’

Live-streamed events for large numbers of people can be really stressful and they can also be prone to internet outage or other technical difficulties. By pre-recording the ceremony ‘as live’ you get all the lovely feels of a live event, but you can do a re-take if the internet suddenly drops out or one of your key speakers gets pulled into an urgent meeting. Another benefit of the pre-recorded approach is that you get to control the length of the ceremony and ensure each finalist, category winner and sponsor gets the same amount of screen-time. Spend some time storyboarding the event, think creatively about how your speakers can add in some of their own personality or variety to spice things up. Dressing up or using props can elevate your ceremony from yet another online meeting. By pre-recording the ceremony you can also add in subtitles to the show to make it accessible to a wider audience when it broadcasts.

3: A Live Watch Party

The big day has arrived and with everything pre-recorded and prepared this part should be a breeze. To add to the excitement and to generate some social media buzz around the event a live watch party is definitely the way to go. Invite all your finalists, sponsors and judges to join you as you watch who has won. To keep the tension in the room a really good idea is to save the announcement of the overall winner until after the show has finished. You can also build in some virtual networking, allowing your guests to mingle just like you usually would at an Awards Ceremony. Platforms like Zoom allow you to create breakout rooms within your session, giving people a chance to speak in smaller groups. It’s still really important to think about the time and length of the watch party and your guests’ access requirements such as captions or BSL.

And finally…

Just because it all took place online it doesn’t mean that you should overlook the importance of a physical trophy. Remember to ask your finalists and winners for their addresses so you can send out the trophies and certificates to arrive the next morning.

At Attendable we know how much planning goes into an awards programme, contact us today to discuss your 2022 event management requirements.

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