Award Ceremony Organisers

At the frontline as award ceremony organisers you take more of an interest in how they are orchestrated then you did at school prize giving or watching the Oscars.

The relevance of this checklist will depend on the scale, style and format of an awards ceremony and what is appropriate to include and work up.

Award Ceremony Checklist

Agree Brief

Define objectives and audience profile plus:
Format, style and atmosphere.
Themes, communication or brand guidelines to adhere to.


Availability of key personnel who will  lend prestige by attending.
Avoid conflicting events, sport fixtures and religious and public holidays.


Prepare a critical path/timeline and budget.
Brief all stakeholders of their responsibilities.
Agree deadlines with those affected.

Project Management

Breakdown the event into component parts such as production, venue, catering, programme, press and PR, judging entries, marketing and promotion.
Delegate responsibilities to avoid being overstretched.


This will define the scale of the Awards.
Limited budgets demand creativity; keep it personal to make an impact and avoid wasteful gimmicks. Can you piggy back onto another event ?
Include a contingency, say 10%.


A calm, quick witted and entertaining presenter, fully briefed on the audience and awards.
Get their requirements in advance such as a lectern for notes? Agree where it will be positioned in advance in stage set up.


Critical to achieve a sense of theatre and engagement,
Music and lighting are vital components.
A showcaller plays a key role as your right hand man who will make the show happen.


A dry run will fine tune speeches such as speaking into a microphone, sound levels, walk-on and walk off and things not previously thought, for a slicker event.
See Brit Awards 1989 for what can happen if you don’t.

Voice of God

An authoritarian voice who is seen but not heard.
Voices of the X Factor, The Weakest Link and the National Lottery create impact to the proceedings for a reasonable fee and support the host.


Provide a brief. Stress timings, context, where in the proceedings they will take place and who else is speaking.
Ask to see copy in advance to avoid surprises and repetition and share with the production team.


Not verbatim, just key points.
Script cards, branded on the back which is seen on camera and by the audience.
Autocue if necessary.
Supply pronunciations for tricky words, such as names.

Floor plan

Consider ease of access on and off the stage.
Play it safe and keep competitors apart on the seating plan.
Ensure you know where winners are located.


A suitable sound system for when you need to crank up the volume and background music. Walk on music to stir and rouse. Avoid clichés such as Tina Turners “Simply the Best”. Inject humour and/or be creative: vintage tunes, ask the nominees to select a tune. Cover the entire event, not only the walk on music. Music over a meal can interrupt conversation.


Tell a story and show examples of work to inspire others.
Use crowd shots to scene set.
Conduct interviews with sponsors, winners, judges, audience, senior management, host and influencers.
Distribute as a post event memento that can be shared.
Use for future promotions for ticket sales and sponsor support.


Prepare a brief of shots needed for entire event, not just winners.
Timetable shots, so key people are available.
Doing Winner shots off-stage saves time on stage.
Supply a branded photo backdrop.
Circulate photos to press, winners and judges for display in office receptions and boardrooms, and on social media.


Consider keeping acts in line with key messages.
Don’t overstuff the programme with too much entertainment; allow time for people to talk.

Running order

Produce a detailed schedule with minute by minute actions from set up to dismantling, outlining who is doing what and when.


Agree judges.
Devise grading system that is fair and consistent.
Briefly make audience aware of the selection process.


Order well before the event.
Have spares as back up.
Style should reflect the Awards identity.
Consider acknowledgements for runners up.


Can be used to help condense what is said on stage, such as the selection process, background on awards and nominees, special thanks, sponsor credits.
Make top performers feel extra special.

Sponsors & Charity

Creation of packages.
Targeting and marketing.
Fulfilling agreements.
Link a charity to the awards to add another dimension.

Media & PR

Encourage and invite interest from the press and relevant influencers.
They will help increase brand awareness.
Give them good notice.
Get stakeholders to promote their involvement for a “domino” promotional effect.


Prepare a schedule from canvassing for entries and save the dates to post awards.
Think of the different angles to hype up e.g. judges, entries opening and closing, the compere/host, sponsor stories, charity support.
Use social media, have a Twitter Hashtag.


Identify target audience and size.
Get stakeholder input e.g. sponsors, nominees, judges.
Decide on ticket policy for e.g. free or discounted places.
Set ticket/table price, early bird deals, categories of seating such a VIP packages


Style to match  the image and budget.
Size suited to format e.g. seated dinner, stand up.
Extras, what is and isn’t included in fine detail.
Facilities: parking, accommodation etc.
Style of food service.
Ease of access.
Other events happening at the same time.
Brief staff on timings for service and clearing.
Service stipulations e.g. a meal to be served and cleared within 2 hours to avoid penalty.

Winners and Nominees

Send special invites including a briefing.
Decide where they sit or go during the ceremony.
Compile list in order they go on stage with award category and special achievements.
Make them feel special:

    • Name in programme and on screen.
  • A live camera to focus on them.
  • Video or photo montage or testimonies on the winners, to highlight how they have excelled to engage the audience during their walk-up.
Winners Briefing

Speeches: what is appropriate and length of time.
Walk on and off stage protocol.
Dress code.
Guest policy: can they bring a partner?
Running order.
Who presents their award: a judge, colleague, director/manager, past winner, family member (they need advance warning and briefing too).

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