How to Host Your Virtual Awards Today

how to host virtual awards

If you are like me, I know you might be going through a world of emotions right now, and 2021 is turning out to be one of those years that no one saw coming. It is even crazier for event organizers or if you had planned a physical event this year. With remote working and little to no travel, hosting virtual events is the new order of things and this includes hosting virtual awards ceremonies. So, what are virtual awards?

What are Virtual Awards?

A virtual awards or virtual awards ceremony is an online awards ceremony or event where an attendee participates by opening a browser on the laptop. This is where the event participant is not physically present at the event. Virtual event uses platform that enable online attendance to the virtual awards ceremony.

Hosting virtual awards is the new normal given that the world is adopting to more people working from home. It is encouraging you keep distance. This will certainly be a new way of doing things. The world today is in a crisis, and this is causing a great deal of havoc in the business of events and in-person marketing space. It is time for business leaders and marketing experts to innovate. One such area that requires new ideas is the delivery of award ceremonies. The move to online or virtual space for award ceremonies is a welcome idea.

Gala dinners have traditionally provided a mix between formal occasions and enjoyable celebrations. Right now, your increasingly time-poor networks may not be able to gather in large crowds.

This is the perfect opportunity to break the mould of the gala dinner format. You can design new ways to celebrate top achievers in your industry. The solution should be able to maintain the appropriate recognition and respect for your brand. Also, you get a chance to have modern, flexible and efficient solutions.

Your award recipients will love having digital content that they can include on their social media networks. Your board will love the new budget-friendly format.

How to Host Virtual Awards Ceremonies Today

In the world today, many industries are experiencing a great deal of changes. This is because of the current global economic challenges. The events and awards world has reduced the number of physical events. This is to allow people keep distance and continue to work remotely.

This means that events should consider going digital. It is true for recognition events and therefore increased virtual award ceremonies.

I am sure that you have heard about virtual events. Infact, I can bet that you have attended a few over zoom or other virtual platforms like Teams.

If you are in the events business, then you could be having your own event or a client’s event going virtual. You could be wondering if with such a move you will be able to capture the true feeling of an in-person event over an online platform.

On my part, I have since hosted several virtual events, and the big one was the oil and gas virtual summit in July 2020. Therefore, I do have an idea of what it takes to organize and host a virtual event.

If you had planned an event which you have postponed or cancelled, this is the time to start making plans on how to host it virtually. The show must go on and it is more important today than ever.

It is important that we continue to celebrate and recognise achievements of people or companies across industries. This is such a powerful way of people and society to move forward, even when the whole world feels like it is at a standstill.

And not only does it help society and our industries, it helps you as a person. Put simply, it feels good to be recognised for our hard work and contributions. It helps you to stay positive, engaged and motivated.

I know you might not be sure on how to progress with your events remotely, and this ultimate guide on how to host virtual events will give you enough information which you can use to plan your virtual event which might include a virtual awards ceremony.

It is very possible to organize and you might ask, how do you know this? I am also in the middle of organizing and planning for the upstream virtual awards ceremony which will take place in 2021. We are embracing the new era of digital experience to run and host the upstream awards.

So you are not alone. While a lot of things seem to be halted, there is a lot you can do virtually with your events. Here is how you can plan for your virtual event.

The Importance or Value of Hosting Virtual Awards Ceremonies

This might come to you as a surprise, but virtual events have been in existence even before the current challenges.

Hosting a virtual awards ceremony is not only possible; it is a business opportunity that can be lucrative. A normal physical or in-person event has numerous overheads, which reduces when you convert to a virtual platform.

Some of these include;

  • You do not need conference space or large virtual event space.
  • No food and drinks expenses.
  • Less physical marketing materials
  • No travel or accommodation expenses.

In most cases, these overhead expenses are the ones that drive the overall event costs. Without them, you can even reduce your event’s entry ticket cost.

This would increase participation from both individual attendees as well corporate participants including sponsors.

It might also be easier for guest speakers or presenters to accept your gala invitation. Now, they can avoid the inconveniences of travel and accommodation.

Hosting a virtual event requires a new set of skills and new tools. It would be important if you can spend time to learn how to host a virtual awards event.

Virtual events can be attended from literally anywhere, anytime in the world. Easier to invite well-known judges, who have less busy schedules and usually are more open to joining new projects.

Why Should You Hold a Virtual Awards Ceremony?

The option of holding virtual awards is something you should consider, especially if your physical events have been cancelled or postponed. There are a number of reasons why this is important to you and they include;

Recognition is Still Important

Recognizing your employees is perhaps even more important during difficult and low times. Your employees are likely stressed out, whether your business has dipped or skyrocketed. Everyone is feeling a bit overwhelmed by what is going on in the world today.

Our once hyper-social environment has become a distant land of emails, texts, and phone calls. You could be craving that human connection that you used to get from chatting at the coffee maker. Your employees deserve to be recognized for their achievements in a setting with their peers. They deserve to have a great time together even though they are not all in the same room.

A Virtual Awards Ceremony will boost team spirit

Today, most people are spending time at home offices and their couches. It would such a great idea to provide one with an opportunity to dress up and toast to his or her peers. That is what a virtual awards ceremony would do. We all need to have some fun right now, and no better way than to celebrate achievements of industry peers.

It is a great way to bring people together who are currently staying apart from one another.

Give People Something to Look Forward to Today

Maybe you’re postponing your event, and you’ll keep on postponing until it’s absolutely 100% safe for us all to emerge from our PJ-swaddled cocoons. Consider that indefinitely postponing your event can only add to the disappointment we’re all facing with the cancellation of sporting events, concerts, festivals, and all the other not-so-socially-distant activities we love. Give them something to look forward to in the midst of all the doom and gloom!

Virtual Events are Incredibly Cost Effective

Sending your recipient a box in the mail and holding a web conference is no plane tickets to different cities across the world, that’s for sure. Virtual events are cheaper, and your recipients may realize that. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be meaningful in their own way. You can throw a great virtual event that will leave them impressed and reinvigorated, just as they would be after a physical event. And at the same time, you reap the benefits of a much less costly event. Virtual events are also a wonderful option if your budget for recognition has been slashed due to the low cost compared to renting a venue, organizing speakers and catering, and all that goes along with a physical event.

The Pros/Positives and Cons/Negatives of the Virtual Awards Ceremony

As you might be aware, most of things in life and business has a positive and a negative side to it. At this stage, I would like us to explore the pros and cons of hosting virtual awards ceremonies.

The Pros/Positives

Attendance: At times, due to unforeseen circumstances, a person cannot really make it to being present physically at an event. But with a virtual awards ceremony, in-person attendance is convenient and does not cost much.

Recognition: A person may be rewarded privately in an organization but when it comes to virtual awards, all the attendees know who is being awarded what for their work.

Long term benefits: Additionally, a virtual award ceremony will let you create a product in the form of recordings. This is a digital product that can be shared across and be used as a motivational tool for months and years after the event has happened.

The Cons/Negatives

Zero face to face networking: A key aspect of award functions and conferences is networking. The virtual events have a big limitation as the attendees do not really get a chance to have one on one discussion with one another.

Distractions: While it sounds so comfortable that a person can attend an event such as an award ceremony from the comfort of their home, it can also expose him or her to various distractions whether it is family or pets or internet issues.

Ineffective sponsorships: Organizations are not really able to establish a connection with their target audience as there is little to almost no face to face interaction with the attendees to leave an impact on them.

Less Excitement: A virtual award ceremony is just an event that will be attended by someone by opening a browser on the laptop. The grandeur that is an integral part of live events is going to be missing. The people attending virtual events might just be shopping online while attending them.

Virtual Awards Ceremony Planning Tips 

Now that we’ve covered the reasons why, I know you are eager to know how to plan an awards ceremony virtually. Here are a few helpful tips for throwing your own virtual recognition event.

Send Out Invitations

Create anticipation by formally inviting your attendees. For example, you can make custom acrylic invitations that double as a fun keepsake for your awards ceremony

Ask Your Attendees to Dress Up!

Let your invited guests know that they need to dress up. There is no excuse for not showing up at their best, even if the event is being held virtually.

Give Out Awards

Awards are still important even in our current world. The element of surprise is removed but the winners will still appreciate your token of recognition perhaps even more now that you have gone through the effort of sending it to their home. They will be happy to know you’re still thinking of them and their accomplishments in this crazy time!


Consider sending your attendees wine glasses or champagne flutes for a group toast! Mini champagne bottles are a nice touch, too. This is a fun, low-cost element that will really bring the joy to your virtual awards ceremony.


Your employees likely know how to create custom Zoom backgrounds; it’s time you learned, too! Look into creating a themed background for your attendees to use and sending custom photo props for fun photo booth style pictures that your employees can share on social media.

What’s with the planning part?

While there is no denial of the fact that organizing a live event requires a lot of time, effort, energy, and money, putting up a virtual award ceremony requires planning as well. Let us now look at how to run a virtual awards ceremony.

Build the submission process

So you are trying to pull a virtual award gala together on a virtual platform. Guess what is the first step? Building an entry form lets you contact more users. Just before an event such as an award ceremony, it is essential and safer to know the number of people and who exactly is expected to attend your event.

Create a schedule for the award ceremony

Nowadays, many organizations have been searching about how to run a successful virtual event. The key to any successful event is creating a schedule for the same. A schedule makes sure that nothing is missed or goes wrong.

Manage the live streaming

In order to live stream your event, you need to register it on a streaming device. No matter which broadcasting platform you choose, it will require bandwidth and special server equipment to process the data successfully.

Invite attendees to your awards ceremony

After you have built the submission process, created the schedule for the award ceremony, and taken care of the live streaming bit, it is time to invite attendees for the event. You can send them an email, a personal note, or even let them know through a group chat or whatever feels more comfortable to you.

Invite the jury for your award function

A virtual award ceremony does not mean that you can let go of having a jury of judges to assess the function. A jury is responsible for taking control of the event, directing it, announce the winners in an unbiased way, and buck up the morale of the people who lost.

Choosing judges

Whether you are organizing a real-time award ceremony event or a virtual one, you will have to have a panel of judges to decide and announce the winner. The judges could be from within your organization such as personnel from the higher management or you can even opt for the voting system such that whoever gets the maximum votes wins.

Virtual Event Setup – Tool Used to Host Virtual Events.

At this point, you now know that there are several benefits of hosting a virtual awards ceremony. The real question is, how do I host or produce a virtual awards event?

Sure, you know a little about working remotely. By now, you have probably attended a virtual meeting, a webinar or video chat and you know how to work from home. But, can one host a virtual event? Yes, you can do it! And there is a lot of effective and proven technology to help you succeed.

A virtual event is just that, fully virtual and hosted online. If you want to be fancy, you can set up a stage in your house or home office. However, it is not necessary.

Your virtual event setup will mainly involve deciding on the technology that you are going to use in hosting the event. The following are some that you can consider;

A virtual conferencing tool There are many of these on the market. You could set up something quick and affordable like Teams, Zoom or Google Hangouts where you can invite all your event participants and choose the host(s) who will make the announcements.

It is possible to create break-out rooms with Zoom, where the host can divide the group up to hear specific speakers or awards announcements in specific categories or chapters. If you do this, be sure to provide a clear path back to the original group.

If you have the available budget there are also a host of advanced event planning tools built for virtual events, such as Whova, Run The World, and Hopin all which facilitate live online events.

Social media live-streaming Live-streaming an event on social media is a great way to create excitement and build your online brand during your live event. You can choose a platform like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and Twitch are also popular live-streaming services. Or, you can choose to “simulcast,” or live-stream on various social channels at the same time, with a tool like Switchboard or Vimeo. And don’t forget to promote your live event beforehand, so your community knows where to follow along in real-time (more on this below).

Once you’ve chosen the technology to support your live event, be sure to take several practice runs. Invite program managers to be judges, speakers, viewers and participants to test every aspect of your virtual event.

Technical Aspects of Platforms to Host and Stream Virtual Awards Event

Virtual events are quite like any other kind of conference, but the only exception is that they take place over the internet. Virtual events let you hold meetings and engage the audience to achieve your goals through interactive technology.

From Zoom to Converve, Webinar Jam to Click Meet, there are tens and hundreds of platforms one can use to host and stream the award function. Some platforms offer not just live streaming, but a whole new set of features, to create a unique and engaging virtual award event experience.

Engage the attendees in the right way

No matter what, do not forget about your attendees. Remember to keep them engaged so that they stick around your event instead of surfing the internet. You can choose to interact with them, come up with the kind of content that engages the audience, or use frequent Q&A sessions.

Making connections and establishing network during a virtual awards event

The nature of the event does not matter when it comes to getting to know people and growing your network. Without a doubt, there may be certain shortcomings as you will not be able to personally meet people and connect in the way you could have, but with the virtual situation being the new normal, you can actively facilitate and make sure everything runs smoothly, gets along, the timetable is followed, and meaningful connections are established.

Overseeing Voting, Automated Scoring, and Reporting

Voting is an integral part of an award function, which can be done digitally with the help of a virtual judging platform. The votes are recorded and automated scoring is put to use so that the winner can be announced. Automated scoring makes use of machines such as computers to evaluate the score given by people. Finally, a report is compiled and shared with the jury so that they can announce the winner.

The entire process needs to be watched closely so that the award function runs smoothly and in a fair manner.

Ideas to Improve Virtual Event Engagement

Influencer involvement: Invite the influencers of your industry to your virtual awards gala to give a speech or present an award.

Attendee participation: Make sure your attendees are engaged. You could break them into groups and place them in virtual breakout rooms, as mentioned above, to discuss a topic or listen to a particular speaker, or even do something fun and crazy.

Provide information and an agenda on each session/breakout room in advance so your attendees can decide which sessions to participate.

Participant networking: Virtual events provide opportunities for interested participants to connect via chat or exchange contact information with other participants for future collaborations.

Live-stream engagement: If you live-stream your event, your viewers can submit questions or comments. Be sure to let them know that comments and emojis are welcome.

Involve the winners: Consider notifying your finalists before the live event, and let them know how to accept the award live during the event. This can be done through a virtual conferencing tool like the ones mentioned above.

It can also be as simple as a recorded, live-streamed face time call! If you have all the finalists waiting for the winner announcements, it will create an environment much like a real event, with added suspense perfect for live viewers and participants!

How to Include Sponsors in Your Virtual Event

Brands and companies sponsor events in a bid to increase their own sales, or just increase the visibility and build brand awareness.

If you are organizing a virtual event, you must reach out to different brands and ask whether they would be interested in sponsoring it or not.

Sponsorship improves the outlook for gathering, attracts the attendees, and can even bring in the budget required to organize the event. Virtual or actual, when an event is backed by sponsorship, it gains credibility and is likely to see an increase in numbers.

Just because your event is now virtual does not mean you cannot include your sponsors. It is important to include them in the event and provide value for them.

The reasons you should include sponsors are;

  1. Provide the sponsor with visibility: You should be able to provide high visibility for your sponsor by creating opportunities for placements during the event.
  2. Attendee Database: You can also offer access to the event attendee database. This is an opportunity for the sponsor to offer their product or service via email during the live event.
  3. Event Participation: Invite sponsor participation in the event. Maybe it is an award announcement, maybe it is a product or service announcement to highlight their organisation.

7 Tips to Promote Your Virtual Awards Ceremony

At this stage, you have a plan in place for your virtual awards event and you have even picked the technology to use.

It is now time to promote the virtual awards. Here are some useful tips on how to promote your virtual awards event;

  1. Create an attention-grabbing event landing page
  2. Use keywords to help your search potential
  3. Utilize email marketing the best
  4. Promote your event through social media across platforms
  5. Ask people to tell their friends
  6. Videos work so you can make a video and post on YouTube
  7. Collaborate with partners or sponsors to promote the awards.

The key to make an event a success is by way of promoting it. The more you promote your event, the higher chances of reaching your goal.

This is very important, especially if you want viewers for a live, virtual or live-streamed event.

Much of the promotion will be the same as before. You will need to send invitations, set ticket costs if it is a paid event, and showcase your sponsors and judges. Be sure to send out multiple reminders about the upcoming event, especially one week, one day, and even one hour before the event.

Let your participants know what to expect. If you have guest speakers, be sure to profile them in advance and let them know exactly what time they will speak.

Provide all the information and technology requirements your participants need.

Collecting Data during Virtual Events

In the case of the virtual events, you will be using the data tracker applications to keep track of the attendees, their preference, their geo-location, age and gender among other things. Another great tool for collecting attendee data would be asking them to fill forms.

Analyzing this data allows you to see how many people attended the event, their interests, and more. You can use analytics software to understand the data.

How to Measure Success of a Virtual Event.

One of big concerns of both the organizer and the sponsors of a virtual event is the success of their efforts. I am sure you would be concerned of the same as you plan to host your event.

You can measure success of your event by understanding your attendee ratio (AR). This ratio measures the percentage of people who actually attended the virtual event as a ratio compared to those who registered.

Also, the polls will let you find out the interests of your attendees by measuring real-time feedback. In addition to this, you can use exit surveys to measure how well you met the expectations of your audience, such as if your event delivered what it promised to the target audience and more.


In July, I hosted the oil and gas virtual summit which turned to be a great success, and a ground-breaking event for the oil and gas industry. The most important are the lessons I took from that experience.

It is those experiences that give me confidence in assuring you that it is possible for you to host a virtual awards ceremony, or any kind of event online.

Your virtual awards event will provide participants with an opportunity to be happy, to smile and to celebrate their or other’s achievements. It will also provide a platform for people to connect and ‘meet’ again.

If you can be able to engage your audience and stakeholders, you will have a great and a successful virtual event.

This will also provide you with an opportunity to create or generate a new library of videos which will be useful to your virtual events marketing efforts going forward.


How does a virtual event work?

In short, a virtual event replicates a ‘physical’ location-based event, but online.

It allows you to host a global conference, trade show, product launch or recruitment fair from the comfort of your home or office, using only a laptop or mobile and an internet connection.

Tips for hosting virtual awards events

  1. Create a game plan. Whether big or small, offline or online, every event should have a strategy..
  2. Choose the right time.
  3. Promote the event.
  4. Prepare for tech troubles.
  5. Make it inclusive.
  6. Encourage engagement.

How do I run virtual awards ceremony?

Write a brief. The brief for your awards show should outline the purpose of the event.

Pick a theme. The ceremony will be more interesting if you give it an overarching theme.

Others include;

  1. Set the budget.
  2. Choose a venue.
  3. Plan the stage design.
  4. Create a floor plan.
  5. Plan sound and video.
  6. Pick the award songs.

There you have it. Now go ahead and host your virtual awards ceremony. I wish you all the best!