Febuary 15, 2018

Awards: The Excellent Master of Ceremonies' Guide

Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Google Email Print

An awards ceremony is a special corporate event designed to recognize and reward excellence within a particular industry. It brings together the top people who make things happen in that industry to network... in a relaxed setting. It provides a perfect excuse for guests to dress up in their finest to spend three or four hours wining, dining and sharing the in the joy of the winners. It can also be a source of abject boredom if the Master of Ceremonies doesn't bring it to life with an entertaining style of presentation. For how long would you tolerate the MC mechanically announcing "And the winner is...and the winner is...”?


The secret to successfully emceeing an awards ceremony is the same as any other special event - the key is preparation. If you have been chosen to host your company's annual awards, pat yourself on the back. Someone thinks you can do a good job in handling the show. Now it's up to you not to disappoint them or yourself. Get to work immediately.

Request a meeting

Have a conversation with the event organizer. Make sure you take notes. What do you talk about? Here are eleven questions you should ask:

  • When is the awards ceremony?
  • Where is it taking place?
  • What time does it start?
  • Why these awards at this particular time of the organization's life? This sounds like an obvious question but you may get extra insights from the response that could be helpful to you.
  • Who hosted last year's event? (If it was recorded, ask for copies of the video)
  • Who is your sole contact person during the event?
  • Who are the speakers on the program? You will need their profiles so you can introduce them well.
  • Who will provide entertainment? The deejay? A live band? A comedian?
  • How many awards will be presented?
  • Who is presenting the awards? Company executives? VIPs?
  • What is the highest award? You'll want to climax the event by announcing this one last.
  • Running Order

    Next, ask the organizers for a draft running order or run sheet. This document shows what will happen at a specific time during the show. I have come across elaborate versions done in Microsoft Excel with precise timings for everything that happens on the stage including scripts for what the MC should be saying. The running order is your best friend if you are the MC. It is your road map that will help you get to Destination Successful Event in good time.

    Always note that the running order is not set in stone like the Ten Commandments. For example, if it bunches thirty awards in one presentation segment you can take the liberty of splitting the awards up. You could for example present ten before dinner, ten during dinner and the remainder right after the final musical performance. Audiences attend events primarily to be entertained and you the MC are the facilitator of the entertainment. Bend the running order to suit the dictates of the event.


    As the MC, you've asked your questions and you've received the running order. Are you ready to host the event? You know the saying "Practice makes perfect." It's time to put the saying to the test. You should aim to have a full dress rehearsal of the event at least once.

    Practice the key moments of the ceremony – the introduction, the award presentations. In what order will the awards be arranged and presented when the categories are announced? That will prevent you from announcing one category only for the winner to be presented with a plaque for a different award. Will the announcement of awards be synchronized with music? Then you and the deejay have to be well coordinated. It is only during the rehearsal session that you'll know how the different segments of the show fit and flow into each other.

    Show time!

    After this amount of preparation, you are ready for your awards ceremony. Get to the venue ahead of time, start on time and have a good time! Success is yours!