How to Best Present an Award

Giving out an award is a huge honor. You were probably picked because others knew you would do a great job. When presenting an award, it is important to remember to explain the purpose of the award, why the award is important or significant, and give special recognition to the person being presented the award.

If you know beforehand who the recipient is, make sure you know how to say the recipient’s name correctly. If needed, spell it out phonetically on a card and practice it a few times. Saying the person’s name incorrectly will be embarrassing to you and may ruin the experience for others. If you do not know who the eventual winner is, ask for a list of the nominees and do the same exercise for each person nominated.

Check that the award is correct and right side up before going onstage. Remove any protective or plastic materials that are on the award. Make sure you're holding the award correctly so that you don't present it upside down or backwards (It Happens!). Finally, read the award to make sure everything is spelled correctly, including the recipient's name and the award title. IMPORTANT! If the award is a statue, glass or crystal piece with a base, always pick up the award by the base and present it that way. Sometimes in the excitement of the moment, the presenter or recipient becomes animated and risks the base being knocked off the award or dropped.

Part of the excitement of this experience is creating suspense, mystery and anticipation. Explain the purpose of the award, and why it is significant. When you first start talking about the recipient, be very vague. Refrain from using pronouns, departments or area that the recipient works, so many members in the audience believe it could be any one of a number of people.

Praise the hard work of everyone considered for the award. While you’re only honoring 1 person, chances are there are other people in the audience who also worked hard and deserve acknowledgement. Recognize their efforts and let them know that they’re appreciated. However, make it clear that the person who is receiving the award deserves special recognition.

Slowly introduce individual characteristics of the recipient. You may first use a pronoun, then which department they work, maybe how long they have been with the company, what their boss may have to say about their performance. The goal is to slowly erode the pool of nominees and the audience will begin to participate in the guessing game as each of the significant details are announced about the winner. By the time the presenter is ready to announce the name, the audience will also feel the energy of the presenter.

When you are ready to announce the winner, make sure you are confident in the annunciation of their name and leave a slight pause before identifying the person. Once the winner is announced, pick up the award, and hold it respectfully as the winner makes their way to the stage. As the winner approaches the stage, step back from the podium, to present the award to the winner, with a simple, “Congratulations.” Be very careful with the transfer of the award, as this is the point in time with the greatest risk of damage.

If you are a supervisor or hold a higher office in the organization, it is customary and appropriate to have a picture taken at this time with the winner. When photographs are taken, the award and the winner should be the main focus. If you are merely a presenter, you should step aside and allow the winner to stand at the podium for a few words.

Congratulations, you have done a great job!!