Awards ceremony etiquette – the dos and don’ts

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There have been some high-profile examples of awards ceremony etiquette in 2022, with perfect demonstrations of what to do, and especially what not to do, at an awards ceremony.

When it comes to how to behave at awards ceremonies, let’s just say that doing a Will Smith is not something we’d ever recommend, but neither is making personal jokes about people.

So, if you’ve got the exciting prospect of attending a glittering awards evening, what do you need to know about ceremony etiquette?

Things to do at an awards ceremony

There’s a pretty long list of things you could do as an awards finalist, but here are our top three:

  1. Put your glad rags on. Whatever your definition of dress to impress, now’s the time to wheel out that outfit. Whether you’re more comfortable in a dinner jacket and bowtie or an open-necked shirt and waistcoat, or whether you’d prefer a floor-length gown over a knee-length fitted number, awards ceremonies are the perfect event to get dressed up. Having missed out on so many opportunities to put on our best togs (as we say here in Yorkshire), awards ceremonies have all the glitz and glamour to provide the perfect backdrop to your favourite extra outfit
  2. Join in with celebrating on social media. Most awards programmes will have a Twitter account, LinkedIn page and a dedicated hashtag for the awards ceremony itself, so use the evening as the perfect opportunity to promote your status as a finalist. You can get social media mileage from your journey to the venue and getting ready right through to the announcing of the awards themselves. Follow the hashtag to comment on other people’s posts to increase engagement
  3. Work the room. You can do this virtually ahead of time by checking out the other companies on the shortlist and seeing who else is tagged in posts from the awards organisers. Connect with people on LinkedIn with a message saying you are fellow finalists to grow your virtual network. Arrange to meet key people for a quick chat at the drinks reception if you can – it’s always nicer to meet in real life, right?

What NOT to do an awards ceremony

It’s easy to lean into having a good time with colleagues at awards ceremonies and forget that you’re representing your organisation. Here are a few tips for what not to do if you’re lucky enough to be at the table at an awards final.

  1. Be disrespectful of the host. Calling a room of several hundred people to order is no mean feat, especially when the drink has been flowing. Help the host out by not carrying on your conversations while they are trying to get the ceremony or next award announcement underway
  2. Be a bad loser. Every finalist wants to win, but if it isn’t your night, dig deep for your best gracious loser face. Being a good loser also includes finding out what you can about the project, person or organisation that won, as there could be clues about what to include in your next award entry or a particular angle the judges liked
  3. Drink too much and regret it later. Without wanting to sound like party poopers, killjoys, or just the kind of people who state the bleeding obvious, getting blind drunk at an awards ceremony is a recipe for disaster. It’s brilliant to be able to let your hair down and possibly even celebrate, but in a room filled with colleagues, contacts and potential clients, you don’t want to be the subject of the stories people are telling the morning after. By all means enjoy yourself, but best to stick to having a few drinks, rather than attempting to drink the bar dry

We’ve seen our fair share of awards ceremonies – the good, the bad and the ugly. We hope you’ll be able to make the most of these top ceremony etiquette tips for the next time you’re attending as a finalist hoping to bring home a trophy.

Are your entries falling short of the shortlist? If you need help getting there, contact the Awards Writers team by calling 0208 7207307.