Author ADMIN  |  Date published 23 April 2021

Virtual Awards Ceremonies – keeping the engagement alive

The team at Activate Events share some hints and tips that will help you ensure you achieve better engagement at your virtual awards ceremonies.

Awards ceremonies and internal employee recognition events are usually the highlight of the calendar. A chance to let your hair down, celebrate success, share innovation and network with peers. 

But what happens when you can’t? What is an award ceremony without a live audience? Can you really recreate the feeling of winning an award, the spotlight, applause, picture taking and trophy giving? 

When the pandemic hit it was almost assumed that awards ceremonies would be the first to bite the dust, surprisingly though, there was still an appetite from businesses, their employees and industry audiences for recognition to take place. The desire to be accoladed Infront of peers had not subsided, in-fact with ever increasing challenges those that were still working desired it even more. Activate Events have been organising an internal awards ceremony for a large construction client for a number of years. 

Activate Events were posed with a significant challenge, their long running client held an annual employee awards ceremony. Historically this was a big budget event offering the glitz and glam that would be commonly associated with a televised awards show, big ticket hosts, headline entertainment acts, immersive theming. The challenge was tough, deliver the same impact but… VIRTUALLY. 

There was nothing else to do but throw themselves head first into the challenge. Activate Events explains how they broke the event down to its core elements:


Virtual Event Production:

Whilst we don’t want to state the obvious, we will… a standard zoom meeting just won’t cut it. Activate’s client was used to high-end production standards and immersive theming, so watching someone present direct from their dining room would fall flat on its face. Instead Activate facilitated a mix of live and pre-record content which allowed for elements of enhancement providing a broadcast quality. Selecting the right platform is also very important, ensuring that live streams were framed and branded, all supported in adding greater finesse to the overall feel of the event.

Virtual Award Presentation:

One of the greatest effects of receiving an award is the sense of honour that it instils in the individual and the social gratification that they receive for achieving their accolade. Standing in front of your peers and being rewarded for your efforts is definitely not something that is easily replicated, the goal is to try to ensure the winner feels as close to the same emotions in a virtual environment (sat at home) than they would in the live environment. Activate worked with their client to ensure that each nominee and winner got their fair share of screen time. Ensuring high quality headshots and direct live links to the winner’s camera so they can accept the award requires a lot of preparation, but without it the impact would be lost.

Food & Drink At Virtual Awards:

When you’re at a live awards ceremony food and beverage quality can be make or break, if the service is slow, the food poor quality or cold then it can really leave a bad taste in the mouths of your attendees (don’t even get us started on what could happen if the bar was running short). So how can you replicate the satisfaction levels of a great food and beverage service at a virtual awards ceremony? 

Well doing nothing isn’t really an option. But how far do you go, do you share an ingredients list and have a cook along, do you send out restaurant meal kits. Activate worked with their client to ensure that this element didn’t become a chore for the attendees. So they curated a box to be sent out pre-event that would have everything they needed, instead of a meal they provided a number of high end snacks to keep attendees fuelled. The box allowed for personalisation, with attendees getting to select a number of drinks of their choice. 

It also allowed for a surprise element; with a live tasting organised for the night a number of spirits were shipped alongside the personalised drinks items. The box also allowed for props to be sent which supported with theming and engagement.

Virtual Entertainment:

This can be crucial. Whilst no one wants their audience sat at home cringing, its slightly better than them switching over to watch that nights Coronation Street. Selecting the correct entertainment and scheduling it at the right times is essential to ensuring engagement at your virtual awards ceremony. Activate knew that their client’s audience loved music so they went all out with a big show band. Pre-recording in the studio meant that they could really enhance the production element and ensure that the entertainment was spread out across the whole night whilst ensuring it was cost effective for their client. Activate’s top tip here is to have a song or two ‘in the bag’ in case of emergencies. Who knows when there might a technical hiccup or some off-timing, so the ability to fill with an extra piece of entertainment is the perfect solution. To compliment the band and enhance the evening Activate added an element of comedy utilising famed ventriloquist Nina Conti. Having a live act like this on a virtual event can be risky; it only takes one dodgy internet connection of a chosen participant to make things wobble, but it also gives a that extra draw to keep the attendees engaged. Working with experts such as Activate can relieve some of the pressure, knowing that they have back-ups and contingency planning in place.


Whilst there are some events that are best suited to the live environment there is also an understanding that it will take some time for confidence levels to return. Fully live awards ceremonies may not be an option for quite some time yet as employers balance the mixed emotions amongst their workforce around the return of face to face. So it is fantastic to see that Activate’s client was overjoyed with the success of their Virtual Awards Ceremony  

“Activate are the BEST. We literally could not have done it without you. You significantly exceeded expectations in meeting our brief. Working with Activate made event planning seem easy as pie (which I usually experience as highly stressful). I hugely appreciate your attention to detail, innovative ideas and helpful disposition. It is like gold dust finding a team who you can trust to really understand your event dreams, and turn them into a reality that is even better than the dream! ” Brand, Digital and Communications Manager.





Are you a supplier?
Sign up now and join the no. 1 directory of event suppliers and services globally!