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6 Reasons your Awards Ceremony is Killing Your Event

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Thu, May 12, 2011 @ 01:10 PM

Motivational speaker

I was an inspirational speaker at several cutting edge health care conferences last month, featuring exceptional health care content,  funny motivational speakers, world class venues and extremely dull awards ceremonies.

Generically recognizing a bunch of people in front of a group can turn into such a dull routine, perhaps because of its mandatory nature. The boredom may be doing more harm than good to your event and overall morale.

One conference presented sixty Twenty-Five Year service ribbons; immediately following this, they presented forty Fifty Year service ribbons. These are really exceptional accomplishments and an inspiration for younger professionals!  It’s too bad it involved sixty mind numbing minutes of rote reading off names in an impersonal way, and I'm not sure the award winners really felt honored.

Other awards presented could involve Excellence in Service, Safety, Performance, Spirit Awards, Hall of Fame and more.

There can be disadvantages to a conference awards ceremony:

  • It could be demoralizing to give someone a ribbon for 25 years of service
  • Some in the audience may feel excluded
  • It can create competitive jealousy, as some in the audience may feel they deserve the award ( i.e. Performance Excellence)
  • You may be recognizing people for qualities they are expected to exhibit within the scope of the job. For instance, one conference presented a Safety Award. What does this mean? Everyone else is engaging in unsafe practices? What are the criteria? Not killing someone?
  • It can create a sense of entitlement and become expected – and the motivation is lost.
  • Many associations only get together once a year: someone wins an award, and a quarter of the audience doesn't even know who they are.

Awards ceremonies are important and people have come to expect them. The challenge is making them engaging and fun without creating unhealthy competition or entitlement.

As an inspirational speaker at over fifteen health care conferences per year, I rarely see an awards ceremony that is really effective. Granted, I am a guest speaker and I do not know the people winning the awards, so I would be the worst critic. As an outsider, however, it seems like the longer the ceremony the more damaging to the entire event.

In another blog post, we will look at ways to effectively recognize people at a conference awards ceremony.

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