Award Show Winners

Make your next award show rock with these fresh ideas

By Lesley Young

You can recreate the Oscars at your next corporate awards event and you’ll still be battling a challenge the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t have: There are only a few attendees who actually know the winners. Everyone else is watching a stranger give an acceptance speech,” explains Andrew Burke-Hall, senior event producer with Toronto’s Showmakers. So what’s the answer? Making the evening as entertaining as possible from the first winner to the last.”

Change up the format Burke-Hall recently evolved a longstanding cross-country award show by transforming the dinner-and-awards evening into a lounge-style networking event. A huge sculpted, lit structure that shelved all the awards was set up near the entrance. As winners arrived, the CEO personally thanked every winner and a photo was taken. “Everyone was free the rest of the night to mingle and network.”

Do a video wall Set up three flat screen televisions side by side and cycle through every attendee’s name. It’s a simple way to recognize everyone who came, says Burke-Hall. You’ll find that at the end of the night attendees line up to run up on the stage and take a selfie with their name behind them. “Then they post it online, so you get miles of social media hype post-show.”

Incorporate a meaningful surprise Burke-Hall introduced a unique way to showcase a number of VPs at a recent cocktail-style awards ceremony. Flash mob choreography was emailed to them prior to the ceremony. An hour before the event, Burke-Hall held a rehearsal and during the night, a signal song was played letting the executives know it was time to break into a dancing flash mob. “It allowed the team leaders to let their hair down, and that really connected with attendees, some of whom started dancing with them. It truly elevated the mood of the night.”

The key to upping your next show’s entertainment factor is to be open to new ideas that don’t detract from your main purpose: to celebrate your best assets. Do it right, and you may just inspire next year’s winners.

* Choose a host who is known in your industry, or, at least, who has knowledge of your industry.
* Break up the night, even if you insert stretch breaks.
* Use video to enhance the nominees’ stories.
* Keep your music current, energetic and pulsating.

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