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Pre-Event Planning
Planning a recognition event requires some creativity and acute attention to detail. While each event requires special preparation, the checklist below will get you started:
    Epitome Award
  • Set Event Date
  • Determine Location
  • Send Invitations
  • Determine Final Guest Count
  • Identify Award Recipients
  • Choose Award(s)
  • Set Budget
  • Choose Theme
  • Notify Presenters
  • Notify Award Winners

Download a Sample Pre-Event Checklist

Preparing for a Presentation
Award presentations can be an awkward experience, not only for the presenter but also for the award recipient. Whether giving an award to an employee for years of service or an outstanding contribution to the company, be prepared:

A great recognition event can generate pride, increase employee satisfaction, and establish trust between employees and managers. However, a poorly prepared and presented recognition event can reduce retention, create disengaged employees, and hurt the bottom line.

According to Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick, authors of Managing with Carrots, The 24 Carrot Manager and A Carrot A Day, "The world's most successful organizations have learned that they must make a recognition event something memorable - with almost as much ceremony and emotion as an Olympic-medal event." Each organization can accomplish this if they remember the following six tips for an effective award presentation:

First, the right person needs to make the presentation. The highest-level executive does not need to acknowledge the recipient. The presenter should be the highest-ranking manager who personally knows the employee and his or her accomplishments. The presenter also needs to be able to use anecdotal examples to evoke an emotion in the recipient as well as all employees in the organization.

Choose presenters who are:

  • Highest-ranking managers that work directly with the recipient
  • Comfortable speaking to an audience
  • Able to connect the recognition with the employee behavior
  • Enthusiastic, excited, and energized

Second, managers must be trained to make great presentations. They need to know who is being recognized and be able to talk about the specific contributions the employee made to the organization. They should focus only on the positive things that happen within the organization. Also, they should not tell "off-color" jokes or make discriminatory remarks.

Third, if an award contains corporate symbolism, managers must be able to explain the symbolism and how it ties into the values and goals of the organization.

Fourth, invite colleagues to attend and ask two or three coworkers to comment on the recipient. Inviting other colleagues to participate provides them with an example of successful behavior they can emulate.

Fifth, if the recipient is willing, allow them to make a few comments. This allows them to thank the people who helped them, as well as, those who participated in the recognition event.

Sixth, the presenter must close with a sincere thank you to the recipient as well as to all who attended.

What Do I Say?
One of the most significant barriers that managers have to using recognition is that they don’t know what to say. Phrasing comments around recognition is easy when you use this format.

  • I saw what you did
  • I appreciate it
  • Here’s why it’s important
  • Here’s how it makes me feel

Use the matrix below to formulate your comments.

Behavior Importance to Your Importance to Corporate Values How Do Your Feel?

Download Template
Tuxedo Flame AwardFor more formal recognition occasions consider:

  • Who should present? The highest-ranking manager who personally knows the employee and his or her accomplishments.
  • What should I say? Know exactly what is being recognized. What contribution has this employee made to the company? Do not mix good comments with bad, focus on the very best things.
  • Explain the symbolism behind the award. Explain how it relates to the company goals and values.
  • Ask others to prepare comments
  • Ask the recipient to make comments
  • Close by sincerely thanking the recipient

Build Your Action Plan
Brainstorm with the event coordinators in your organization to prepare a pre-event checklist. Include the details of the task, the contact person, and the deadline. Task Contact Person Deadline

Task Contact Person Deadline

Find out how the recipients like to be recognized.

Research the purpose behind the recognition event. Be sure to plan the event based on the vision and preferences of the recognition planner.

Choose an award. Determine what the award should symbolize.

Train the presenters to make a gold-medal presentation.

Lastly, arrange to meet with members of the organization to evaluate the effectiveness of the event.

Source: Bob Nelson 2006.

What Happens After the Event?
After the recognition event is complete, informally evaluate its effectiveness. Be sure to debrief with the presenters, attendees, recipients, and planners.

  • Ask the Presenters - How can we improve the award presentation for next time?
  • Ask the Attendees - What should be changed for the next recognition event?
  • Ask the Recipients - What would have made your recognition experience more memorable?
  • Ask the Event Coordinators - How can we improve the pre-event planning process?

You can ask these questions in a variety of ways. Many organizations prefer short surveys to gather feedback. Others opt for a short concise meeting.

Download Event Feedback Survey Template

Distributor Tip: Use the Action Plan Template with your clients to help them create the best event for each employee. The information in this template can also help determine the type of award for each recipient.

After you've gone through the program and had the event, it is important to look at what worked and what did not work. This can help an organization make the proper changes to ensure a successful and ongoing recognition program.

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