Tips for Hosting a Successful Awards Banquet

Tips for Hosting a Successful Awards Banquet

Monday, October 2, 2017 4:52 PM

It is hard to believe  the Holiday season is almost upon us!   Where has the time gone this year?   Now is the time that planning begins for many companies and corporations on how to put together, host and prepare for holiday parties.   Many times, at these holiday parties, employees are recognized for their achievements during the year, awards are presented, and a small presentation is given to include past and future goals.

Following are some tips on how to host an awards banquet that will stay on track and be enjoyed by all.

Awards events can actually be fun. Really.

The easiest way is to look at a formula that works.

Who has the magic recipe? Why MTV of course!  The VMAs are fun, they are a visual spectacle. What most planners may not realize is that even though it’s a star-studded spectacular that takes place at some of the hottest U.S. spots, the VMAs do not have a huge budget.

Just look at the six things that MTV does well and copy, copy, copy.

Step No. 1: Get a host

Most awards events do not have a host. When they do, it is usually Sally from human resources or the association’s executive director. I hate to tell you this, but they are a really bad choice. You can ratchet things up a notch by actually hiring some talent. Think Robert Berry. who will sit down with you to tailor his act to your industry or group. Robert is funny, quick on His feet and good with one-liners. Robert leaves the audience rolling with laughter.

Step No. 2: Get better booze

OK, OK … I know that this is 2011, not 1973, and I am not advocating getting your attendees all liquored up so they act like Whitney Houston or take a stage dive. What I am talking about is the perception that your awards event is actually something important. Think about it: Your awards show may become the highlight of someone’s career. This may be their one shot at greatness, and you — in an effort to save a couple hundred dollars — are cutting corners by serving draft beer and box wine? Shame on you! That is not gonna cut it. You think P-Diddy or Katy Perry would waste a New York minute sipping that swill? Even if you are tight on budget, spring for Heinekens and a decent wine. Wanna go all in? Pop for a vodka luge or have a full bar with top-shelf libations. Here is a bonus tip: When serving soda, serve it ice-cold in the glass bottle; your event will look like a commercial.

Step No. 3: Amp up the music

Seriously Sparkles, where did you get the soundtrack for your event? Your retired, polka-loving neighbor’s garage sale? I don’t care how old your audience is, no one really likes the music you have been piping in. Go current, go eclectic and go mainstream. You only need three elements for music at an awards event – Walk In, Dinner and Winner Walk Away — so make it count . The genre could be house, country or rock music, just make it interesting and worthy of a winner. You do not want the ambiance in the room to smack of singles night at the old folks home, even if your event is at the old folks home.Let Robert Berry and company handle your event and this will never be a problem

Step No. 4: Get all black-tie

This is one element that has been largely forgotten across America, and it really hurts the ol’ awards ego. Do you think that J-Lo would show up at your awards event if she had to look at that mustard-stained tie your husband is sporting? She wouldn’t even get out of her tinted-windowed car. In this day and age, announcing that something is black tie might only get 50 percent of the audience to wear top hat and tails, but the rest will take the hint and dress better than average. Here is a little tip for companies honoring sales associates: Spring for the tux rental and have the local tux guy come in and measure the entire sales staff. A night out in this fashion is less expensive than an incentive trip and will have them talking for weeks.

Step No. 5: Hire paparazzi

How is Mary ever going to display her realtor of the year award if the only person who got a picture of the special moment was Roger, who took it with a disposable camera from Walgreens? . Go hire a pro with the right equipment. Before you pooh-pooh this idea as a giant waste of money, think of all the other places that you can use this amazing imagery. These pictures will look good on your website, in a press release, around the office and especially on your conference room wall where your potential clients will see your staff’s accomplishments… everyone loves a winner, so display your winners.

Step No. 6: Get décor that is decorative

If you are using white table linens in a drab ballroom, you are setting yourself up for an evening of snooze. You need to get your funk on if you want people to act like this event is worth their time. Look at the VMAs; they look like a rainbow exploded. Your budget need not fall off a cliff to get it done, you simply need to think circle when others think square. Use brightly colored table linens, low lighting and candles. Get rid of the flower centerpieces and opt for something creative and off-kilter. Don’t have enough money for a stage set? Use your company’s trade show booth as a backdrop.


I cannot tell you what will specifically work for your unique situation, but I can tell you what definitely won’t. What won’t work is what you are currently doing. You need to get out of your rut if you want to get your annual event off of life support.

Don’t be afraid! The worst thing that could happen is that people actually have fun this year (and maybe you get a pat on the back).