Awards programs often run long — or at least feel that way. Ever seen a television awards show that didn't feel drawn out? It's a constant challenge even for the pros. But these programs can be a fun and uplifting part of your meeting. Below are some ideas to help your awards programs move along at a crisp pace.


  • Create a name and photo scroll set to music.

  • Consider a hand-held reverse angle camera position to capture winners from the front and create more exciting shots.

  • Consider special tribute videos for top award-winners when budget allows.

Logistics and Program Flow

  • Take photographs of winners at a separate location and time from the awards program.

  • Determine which winners should come to the stage and which should stand in place.

  • Seat winners toward the front of the room.

  • Use two lecterns, stages, and/or presenters to maintain a constant flow of winners.

  • Spread recognition out over the program rather than all at once.

  • Choose the time slot for awards to accommodate all attendees, including spouses and guests.

  • Encourage acceptance speeches only when the award is significant.

Music and Scripting

  • Use special music (play-ons) to differentiate significant awards.

  • Change the music periodically for lengthy programs.

  • Be sure scripting is tightly constructed, and written in a clever and interesting manner.


  • Feed your host ideas backstage between segments or through an earpiece (IFB) during the program.

  • Periodically reevaluate categories and the number of awards and discontinue awards that are no longer relevant.

  • Try not to go more than 20 minutes at a stretch without some diversion.

  • When photographing, hand out the awards — the pictures will look better and have more meaning.

  • Form an awards committee for lengthy, complex, or first-time programs.

  • Reevaluate the awards/trophies/plaques themselves for style and relevance.

  • Ship heavy/bulky awards home to winners.

  • Consider a pillow gift on awards night for all attendees — so everyone feels like a winner.

Ken Kirsh, CMP, is president of Kirsh Productions Inc. in New York City. Contact him at (212) 262-4388 or

Awards Shows 101

When you feel good about your host, presenters, music, and lighting, you're halfway home. Integrate video magnification, still photos, clever scripting and let the focus on your award winners do the rest.

What's the most important key to a successful awards program? Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The show goes well only when the host and presenters know exactly what's expected of them.

Less Is More

If your program runs too long, even after trimming, consider:

  • Listing winners in a special printed piece that incorporates names, photos, and remarks,

  • Running winner name-scrolls on-screen during walk-ins/outs,

  • Having fewer winners come to the stage, since that's what uses up the most time.