10 min read

How to Host a Winning Virtual Award Ceremony

woman watching TV screen

When we say that all kinds of events work in an online setting, we mean it — take the virtual award ceremony as the perfect example. Running an award ceremony in a digital format has many advantages over those you attend in person.

Virtual events don’t require large halls or venues to work, all your attendees need is an active internet connection and a comfortable seat at home! There’s a bunch of benefits to running virtual events, generally, and most apply to virtual award ceremonies (more on those later).

But how do you host a winning virtual award ceremony? That’s the question. After all, trying to keep your audience engaged when they’re surrounded by distractions can be a tough one. And that’s before you’ve even considered which virtual event platform is the right fit.

At iVent, we understand that comfort is key. We also recognise the importance of an award ceremony in both the education and corporate sectors.

You want your employees or students to feel a sense of accomplishment. Remember, an award ceremony is meant to be a celebration, championing hard work through recognition. That’s why it’s very important that your virtual award ceremonies are as grand as those you’d attend in person, if not grander.

Consider this your essential guide to virtual award ceremonies.

british journalism awards

What is a Virtual Award Ceremony?

The hint is in the name. If you’ve attended an award ceremony in the past then you should already have an idea on what to expect. The only difference is there is a virtual element involved, one that connects more people in the same space than ever before!

Event organisers actually have multiple options to choose from in terms of how they run the event. Which they choose will depend on the sector, timescales, and costs.

There are two ways to run an event online:

  • Virtual Event: Virtual events are simply that, they’re virtual. Meaning everyone — including the hosts, organisers, the award-winners and the audience — takes part externally. Some universities have dabbled in this type of format to work around Covid restrictions to make sure students don’t miss out on the full graduation experience.
  • Hybrid Event: A hybrid event blends virtual with the real world to create a unique experience. With hybrid award ceremonies, a host might carry the event from an office or venue, announcing awards through the screen for those who cannot be physically present.

Working out which event format you’d like to use should be a top priority as it allows you to plan around it accordingly. A hybrid event might require a fair amount of additional planning over an all virtual award ceremony as there’s typically more to cover.

Pros & Cons of Running a Virtual Award Ceremony

There are pros and cons of running a virtual award ceremony. That being said, the positives tend to outweigh the negatives — and there aren’t a lot of drawbacks to running this type of event.

Let’s begin with the positives:

  • There’s no need to hire venues (unless you’re looking at a hybrid event), organise travel, book hotels, or pay for food expenses
  • Your award ceremonies could be seen by more people spanning multiple countries
  • The event can be recorded and used in future marketing campaigns or simply given to everyone in attendance as a keepsake
  • Being at home is a lot more relaxing for audiences, award winners and speakers

And now, the negatives:

  • Attendees could be easily distracted given they’re at home
  • Could lack the excitement of physical events

However, there are things you can do to inject some of that excitement back into the room! For example, gamification is a great way of enhancing engagement and increasing interest. You could also send out goodie bags prior to the ceremony to generate hype prior to the awards.

gold medal on black table

Virtual Awards Ceremony Ideas and Tips

Now that you know what an online award ceremony looks like, including the pros and cons of running such an event, it’s time we looked at some helpful tips to make sure your efforts are a success.

Knowing how to make your online award ceremonies engaging, fulfilling and most of all, memorable ensures your time and efforts are well spent.

Now, let’s look at some effective virtual awards ceremony ideas and tips that you can incorporate into your own event planning.

Begin with an Engaging Opening Sequence

One of the best things about running a virtual event is you don’t need to direct your audience’s attention elsewhere — to a TV or projector when you want to get their attention. In a virtual setting, they’re already in front of a screen, making it a lot easier to generate interest right off the bat with an opening sequence.

Starting off strong will set the tone for the rest of the ceremony. It’s one of the ways to highlight all of the hard work you’ve been doing as a collective in a corporate setting. For educational award ceremonies, an opening sequence could feature footage of the campus and the students themselves.

Coming up with an engaging opening sequence works really well for live-streamed virtual events where you might pick up more viewers. Viewers who might have clicked off the stream otherwise but you gave them a reason to keep watching.

Use Virtual Photo Booths to Create Memories

What’s one thing you, or your friends and family are likely to do at an award ceremony? Taking photos of course! You can still capture these moments in a virtual setting too by using a virtual photo booth.

But wait, it gets better.

These photo booths can be fully customised to fit all types of virtual award ceremonies, which only adds to the appeal. A unique filter that is exclusive to specific events will also encourage audiences to join in and grab a snap!

Just because an award ceremony is online doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative in how people capture these moments. You could even take it a step further and have multiple ceremony guests appear in the same picture! There’s a lot you can do with virtual photo booths, trust us.

Pre-Record Content Whenever You Can

Sometimes the easiest virtual awards ceremony ideas are right there in front of you. Such as pre-recording content to make for a seamless watch.

Virtual award ceremonies are live, which means it needs to flow in a very natural way — like those you’d attend in person. You could say there is a lot more pressure with virtual ceremonies as they’re accessible to a global audience.

Pre-recording certain sections ahead of time is how you can make sure everything goes to plan and doesn’t go on for too long. Award ceremonies often have multiple categories to get through, giving awards out to hundreds of people in the case of graduations.

It’s also beneficial for international speakers who might not be able to make it, but would still like to give a few words.

Trimming minutes wherever you can is a necessity, and very simple to do when you pre-record. Doing so also ensures that speakers don’t talk for too long. You can also pre-record speeches in a way that appears live but was actually shot hours, if not days ago!

Use Graphics & Unique Transitions

Visuals are another way to break up the format of a virtual event. Graphics have multiple uses, although most will use them as visual cues to highlight which category is next up. If you wanted to be more creative, you could create winners graphics similar to those you might see on the Oscars or the Grammys.

Graphics coupled with unique transitions will give your award ceremony its own signature style. A style that you could use for future events, or alter slightly with each ceremony to keep it fresh.

You could also use graphics to gamify your virtual award ceremonies. Creating graphics with trivia questions on them is another way to increase audience engagement. We know a lot about gamification in events, as the platforms we create are built to run all kinds of engaging incentives!

Moreover, by choosing iVent, you gain access to a dedicated design consultant, who will supervise and advise on all things relating to your event from a visual standpoint.

two people shaking hands

Make Room for Sponsors

As a business looking to come up with virtual awards ceremony ideas, it’s important that you don’t leave anyone out, including your sponsors.

Some businesses might have multiple sponsors in attendance at the event, so it’s important that they feel appreciated and involved in some way. After all, without them, there might not be a virtual award ceremony to begin with. It’s why you see so many awards named after sponsors, they matter that much.

Something as simple as displaying their logo from time to time goes a long way in highlighting their importance to your business. You could even include these logos on the images generated through your virtual photo booth!

Making room for sponsors in your virtual award ceremony could entice other companies to get in touch and sponsor you. Remember, virtual events are seen by a lot of people, including those that work in sponsorship.

Live Stream the Virtual Award Ceremony on Social Media

Sharing your virtual events with others is a great way to educate them on what it’s like working with or for you. Streaming these events live on social media is one way to get as many eyes on your award ceremonies as possible.

It’s a look behind the curtain, so to speak. And a way for you to be as honest as possible with audience’s as it shows you operate with complete transparency. Just think of how many impressions you’d net just by streaming!

With educational award ceremonies, sharing live content to social media is one way to entice audiences to maybe start a degree at your institution rather than going somewhere else.

Having that social presence could do a lot from an ROI perspective too, if we’re talking corporate virtual award ceremonies. Again this relates to sponsors in that they’re more likely to pick up on what you’re doing, not to mention get a feel for your business culture, through things like online award ceremonies.

ttj awards on red background

How to Host a Winning Virtual Award Ceremony

Were any of our virtual awards ceremony ideas and tips helpful? We hope so, as it’s an area we know all too well. We’ve seen what an effective virtual award ceremony can do, not only for those involved behind the events, but for the winners themselves too!

With virtual award ceremonies, you’re given the opportunity to keep your audiences engaged in a variety of ways, some of which aren’t possible with your standard in-person ceremony. However, hybrid award ceremonies can do a great job in bridging the gap between the two.

Most importantly, you’ll need an effective virtual platform regardless of the format you choose.

Well, look no further than iVent! We create custom virtual event platforms that cater to your every need. Want to livestream the event? No problem, we can optimise for that. Want to add a gaming element for those waiting for the event to start? We can do that too!

Simply tell us what you hope to achieve with your virtual award ceremony and trust our experts to deliver the best experience.

Written by:

Nikita-Selfie-ForWebNikita Ovcinnikovs

See more by Nikita Ovcinnikovs

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