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by Roy Saunderson | October 12, 2015
Many award recipients view annual corporate awards events as simply a presentation and not something to jump up and down about. The key is making this formal awards event a celebratory experience.  Your goal is to move away from awards just being a presentation. Check out these Top 10 Ways to making your next awards event a celebration.

1. Build in a degree of objectivity. Ensure judging for formal awards nominations has very clear criteria and then create measuring sticks by which judges can truly give a quantitative score for each separate criterion. This eliminates the perception of judges being too subjective and yet still allows individual opinions to be valued.

2. Capitalize on nominee lists. Take advantage of the opportunity to promote and publicize the names of everyone nominated for a particular award. There is glitz and warmth in being in such great company especially if the nomination was from their peers. The Oscar like drum roll when you get down to the final 4 or 5 is powerful.

3. Know people's recognition preferences. Not everyone wants an award or any form of recognition in front of their peers. Never assume - find out directly from the person and then respect their wishes. Orchestrate everything you need to do to still celebrate the person even if they should turn down the stage and the spotlight.

4. Concentrate fully on the recipients.
 This is not the company's time to shine. Everything about award ceremonies is the magic and recognition experience you create for every nominee and each winner. From the sounds, sights, and feelings don't miss a beat to orchestrate every single detail to make this a "WOW!" moment.

5. Get senior leaders to be present. Clear the senior leaders' heads and clear their agendas so they can be in the room and fully present. Get them to mingle, sit down with employees, and know the nominees' names and their accomplishments. Then they'll be ready to present the awards and express their admiration to each winner.

6. Have the right people there. Spouse, partner, family and friends can be emotional connectors for award winners. Contributing work colleagues and immediate managers can add meaning to an award. Meriting an award never comes in isolation - invite the significant people to be there at the venue with the winners.

7. Build up people's stories for everyone. Let the achievements of award winners also be the stories of everyone else as well. From leading up to the event through story capture online and social media, to sharing people's contributions and their personal characteristics at the award ceremony - become a master storyteller.

8. Let the experience linger longer. Winners of awards can quickly fade into the background after awards ceremonies. Keep the event and the people who won top of mind through video interviews and newsletter highlights. Communicate these messages so all employees could see themselves as award winners in the future.

9. Take the opportunity to celebrate again. CEOs and presidents of companies can take advantage of writing personalized letters to award recipients after the ceremony. They can reference family and friends present and spoken with, as well as further acknowledging the meaningful contributions they made to the company.

10. Connect the memory for people. Invest in excellent photography and videography at the awards ceremony. Provide each award recipient with a digital copy of the memories and presentation. Too often excitement and anxiety of the day causes people to go blank. Here's your chance to make a meaningful celebration last.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the RealRecognition Way and is the Chief Learning Officer of Rideau's Recognition Management Institute, a consulting and training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right. He can be reached at RoySaunderson@Rideau.com. Also, check out the library of Real Recognition Radio shows.