We are currently in the middle of awards season fever. The endless stream of ceremonies, celebs on red carpets and acceptance speeches occupy our TV screens and keep us in high spirits through the winter months, as well as giving us plenty of talking points. These celebrations are a vital part of the entertainment industry, recognising the best performers in their respective industries and their offering to wider society. We all enjoyed the Baftas on Sunday, and as we eagerly anticipate the Oscars in two weeks' time, those at the heart of these two huge events will be carefully putting the last intricate details into place, with expectations to make this year's celebrations the best ever.
I've previously explored how awards ceremonies, especially those which are televised, aren't doing themselves justice and how they can be given some extra life and excitement to once again galvanize the judging eyes of the general public who will be poised to comment over Twitter. When we produce the GQ Men of the Year Awards every September we do so with our creative hats firmly on, striving to meet the high expectations of both the audience and our client. Here, I outline five steps to pulling off the ultimate awards ceremony.
1. Entertainment comes first
People watch these ceremonies first and foremost to be entertained. Then, if they want to know the winners of the many categories they need to stay awake and engaged - an endless procession of actors, actresses and directors taking the long walk to collect an award followed by an emotional acceptance speech can get tiresome very quickly. You can spice up the process with musical performances, highlights of the great performances the contenders are being recognised for and with interviews featuring some of the night's biggest stars. These are some great ways to take the entertainment factor to the next level. I also recommend trying out new, more novel ways of presenting the nominees and their successes rather than simply relying on a clichéd film clip from their most recent performance. One idea is to film them separately to really "show off" who they are. These are big personalities, let them have some fun!
2. Keep the speeches succinct
Speeches are always one of the main talking points, and can make or break the evening. We have all listened to a long-winded acceptance speech, willing the poor soul to just sit down at their fifteenth 'thank you'. Gratitude is important, but the 'thank you' comments for each winner need to be kept to under 60-seconds to keep the evening moving at a good pace. James Corden stopping Adele's speech midway through at the BRIT Awards in 2012 comes to mind. For an awards ceremony to be successful the timing of every last detail is paramount, preventing the evening making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
3. Engage with viewers
With any live show in today's digital age the viewing public will be commentating via social media and their opinions will be founded solely on what they see and hear on their TV screen. As such, regardless of the all hours that have gone into the planning, the success of the event is largely measured by the reaction of the viewers and their comments on social media. For this reason, the best awards ceremonies will really maximise the input of its audience and utilise the influence they have on social media. To make an awards ceremony particularly unique, I would recommend introducing specific awards where the winners are voted for and decided by the viewing public at home. This would not just ensure they tune in and contribute to the outcome, but would also make them feel involved and invested in what is essentially just another TV show.
4. Make it accessible to the general public
Shows, musical acts and films are all essentially created for the general consumer, and as such they are an essential component to a successful evening of celebration. A mistake made far too often at these events is the creation of an aura of exclusivity, which really disengages the general public. The best awards ceremonies will adopt a modern approach and offer some seats to the everyman. This will create a real buzz throughout the venue and send a positive message to the rest of the world that the entertainment industry really knows how to connect with the public.
5. Create unique content around the event
Creating good, credible content is vital and it's just as important to successfully promote this content through social media channels. There are so many mediums available to help generate excitement around events such as award ceremonies. If you have the resources you could consider creating a free app or a dedicated website offering unique, exclusive content for fans around the world, including those who might not be able to watch the event live.
You can take the public's experience to the next level by providing content such as behind-the-scenes photos and videos which help make people feel like they're part of an incredible experience. When planning an awards ceremony this is the extra dimension which can easily be forgotten. Creating event hashtags to track and monitor what everyone is saying about an event is now as important to the event's success as any critic's review, and these need to be promoted before, during and after the show. I like the idea of installing digital screens to display supportive tweets and messages to those involved, a nice touch to give viewers their five seconds of fame on some of the world's biggest stages.