Learning from Kanye: The Dos and Dont's of Award Presentations

September 14, 2009

Being in the recognition and awards industry, I’ve heard many award ceremony horror stories. I’ve been told stories recounting the mispronunciation of the recipient’s name and a presentation of nothing because the trophy was ordered late. But thanks to Mr. Kanye West, we have a new award presentation to add to the list. 

Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, Kanye took to the stage after 19 year-old country singer Taylor Swift was announced the winner of the Best Female Video category. Kanye stole Taylor’s acceptance speech time and took all the joy and excitement out of the award for Taylor Swift by declaring another performer the rightful winner.  

Companies can learn a lesson from the VMA debacle with by learning a few dos and don’ts of award presentations: 

Don’t steal all the glory from the winner. 

Do let her enjoy her moment. The award recipient worked hard to earn that trophy. For many people, recognition from their employer is the only award they’ll ever receive. Make sure it’s memorable. 

Don’t mutter (or loudly proclaim via microphone) that someone else should have won. 

Do discuss questions about the award after the award ceremony. Different awards come with different judging criteria. If you have a question about with the process, take it up with whoever is in charge of the award AFTER the event, and preferably at work in a civil manner. Complaining at the event is just rude. 

Don’t embarrass the award recipient. 

Do put the award recipient in the spotlight. Accepting an award should be a time when the recipient feels most proud about her accomplishments. This is the time to put her on in the spotlight, and you should prepare your remarks by talking to co-workers and supervisors to do it right. 

Don’t spring unwanted surprises on the award recipient. 

Do make award recipients feel comfortable. Employees may be uncomfortable in the spotlight in front of all their peers, and you should make the situation as comfortable as possible for them. After all, you are recognizing them! I’m confident Taylor won’t shy away from future nationally televised award ceremonies, but your employees may not have the same resolve. 

For more presentation tips, visit Baudville.com 


Cori is a Certified Recognition Professional at Baudville and a member of Team Taylor. 

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