The sheer thought of hosting an awards ceremony in our current climate might make a few people run for cover, but in true Submit spirit, this is all about re-evaluating, rethinking and adapting.

Virtual events have been popular since way before our world got hit by the pandemic, it’s just never been the only option.

So if you have an awards ceremony that should be taking place soon, whether it’s an annual award for employees or a movies award, you can still go ahead with it! You’ll just need to make a few adjustments to your planning process.

Here’s how to host a socially-distanced awards ceremony during COVID-19

  1. Decide on your preferred technology

First things first. You’ll want to make sure your first virtual event will run smoothly, so consider what technology you want to use before you start planning. 

If your virtual awards ceremony is a small one, Zoom or Google Hangouts works well and can comfortably support video conferences with up to 100 participants. 

For larger awards ceremonies of 100 or more guests, you’ll need to branch out to a platform that allows heavy streaming with no interruptions. 

  1. Stick to ceremony etiquette

For the most part, hosting an awards ceremony is online is just like a physical one—when it comes to etiquette and formalities.

If there’s a dress code, communicate it clearly on the invitations.

The person giving the recipients their award should take extra effort with name pronunciation, speak slower than in real life, and give a compelling introduction that lets everyone know why this person deserves recognition.

  1. Set up an events page 

An events page is essential for any event, and a virtual one is no exception!

Create an enticing page on your website that outlines important information about your virtual awards ceremony. You can be as creative as you like, as long as you include:

  • Basic event details (name of your events ceremony, date, duration, etc.)
  • Short background info to introduce your ceremony
  • List of nominees, partners, sponsors, judges, speakers and any other important people involved
  • Prize
  • Social media links
  1. Create excitement through social media

In the weeks and days leading up to your virtual events ceremony, make the most of your social media channels to spread the word and generate some buzz.

You can do that by:

  • Posting a daily countdown in the month leading up to your event
  • Create bios for panel members and nominees (if you already have a runners up list, this is a great way to talk about it!)
  • Post past winners of the award (if this isn’t your first award)
  • Start a hashtag campaign related to your award and share mentions (you can ask followers to post their predictions with a specific hashtag)
  1. Create and share a ceremony schedule

Create a detailed schedule for the awards ceremony and share it with nominees, presenters and judges before the day. You might choose to share it once people receive their invitation or a week or two prior to the event. 

It’s a good idea to assign someone in charge of making sure the ceremony runs on time and is following the schedule. That way, you won’t need to worry about running overtime or losing track of what’s supposed to be going on.

  1. Record winning speeches

It may sound bizarre but it’s what Bafta did. This, of course, depends on the type of awards ceremony you’re hosting, but this is a great way to capture some of the magic that happens at a real awards ceremony. 

There will be people who will have made recordings that don’t play out, but this way, nobody knows what the results are until the final moment—and that’s what keeps a virtual ceremony as real and electric as a physical one. 

  1. Prepare ways to keep everyone engaged

The last thing you want is for nominees to get bored and spend the entire time browsing the internet. Come up with a few ways to keep everyone engaged throughout the ceremony. 

Just like assigning someone to gatekeep the schedule, you could ask someone to prioritise this during the event. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom allow you to break guests into mini break out rooms so everyone gets a chance to speak to each other even if just for a few minutes.

You could also 5-minute chit-chat breaks every now and then. Drink top-up, anyone?

  1. Stream your virtual ceremony on social media

Just because your awards ceremony is virtual this year, that doesn’t mean nobody’s watching!

Streaming the full ceremony on social media is a great way to get people excited, as nominees can share the link with their friends and family to tune in and watch from their own living rooms.

It’s also a fantastic way to build your brand—choose a platform like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (or all three) and share your ceremony with the world.

  1. Don’t forget your sponsors

If you have external brands or organisations sponsoring your virtual awards ceremony, make them a priority when planning.

Even though your ceremony will be entirely online, there are still huge opportunities tog rain credibility on both sides. 

Make sure you’ve arranged for clear visibility of your sponsors by inserting branded placements where appropriate during the event. 

You could also involve your sponsor(s) during the event, perhaps by asking them to announce an award, or give a short speech about the award itself and why they believe in it. 

Check with your sponsor(s) well ahead of time if they would be interested in more hands-on involvement, or if they would like to make a product or service announcement to highlight and promote themselves.

Smart tools to host a successful virtual awards ceremony

Hosting a virtual awards ceremony is not only possible, but it’s also lucrative. Just think of all those overhead costs you can wave a swift goodbye to!

And you can make it even better with a high-powered modern platform to ensure your ceremony runs smoothly and efficiently—all while keeping everyone entertained and engaged throughout.

From smart form-builders to nominee reminders, you can focus on the exciting part of planning your ceremony while Submit takes care of the rest.

Have you already hosted your virtual awards ceremony? Tell us all about it! If you’re planning to launch your awards ceremony online, get in touch with us for a demo of the platform today.

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