If you are program chair inside your company or organization, you will either present awards or direct others to do so. This is a special time. The award winners love it. The audience loves it. There are two scenarios to be dealt with; one is when you have a series of awards or acknowledgments, and the other is when you are presenting the coveted top awards.
Members of a team who worked together
People who reached new sales "highs"
Top producers in different categories
People who helped make an event successful
Those who made quota
Hold the name until last. Announce it with gusto. Smile at each recipient. Shake their hands. Show how delighted you are. Remember that your speech—what you say and how you say it—is a massive part of the award. You create the aura. You create the magnitude. You create the sense of triumph. If you do it well, the award winners will revel in their moment. Potential recipients will be motivated to strive for the same recognition in the future. The audience will be impressed. The event will be a success. And you will be responsible for that success.
The best way to sidestep this common error is to practice pronouncing the names. The best time to botch a name is in private. There are no penalty points for that, but if you do it out loud to the audience, that's the one thing they will remember—and they will think you're a jerk. That's not fair, but that's the way it is. As Dale Carnegie once said, "Remember, a man's name is, to him, the sweetest and most important sound in any language."
Don't ever lose sight of the fact that these people are being singled out for recognition. It's a marvelous moment, each time—for them. If you are bored with it, or it comes off as dull or perfunctory, you have failed. You lose personal stature with all those present. So, keep your enthusiasm at a high level from beginning to end, no matter how long and drawn-out the ceremony may become. Even if it sometimes seems to you that you are going on forever, remember that it is the first time and the only time for each person being recognized.
Ideally there should be but one of these, just as there is only one Congressional Medal of Honor. But it's easy to make a case for two. Is there an absolute limit to how many top awards there can be? Yes. The outside limit is three. Beyond that, there is no exclusivity. The value is tarnished.
In many companies, the top award gets its name from some event in the company's history. Let me give you an example. At Communisync, the top honor you can receive is the Jack Sloan Broken Pick Award.
Jack Sloan was a great old-timer who joined Communisync as a salesman at the age of sixty-five and worked for us for eight years. He was marvelously successful because he worked hard and he worked smart. Our vice president of sales, Ted Fuller, was so impressed with his work ethic that he used Jack as an example at one of our sales meetings saying, "You never have to wonder where Jack is. If you can't find him in the office, it's because he's at a client somewhere, breaking his pick (as in digging a hole with a pickax), trying to make a sale."
And so was born the Broken Pick Award. It goes to the person who best demonstrates that they "went the extra mile," "broke their pick," to make the sale. The award, given once a year, is a plaque with the broken pickax symbol on it. It's the apex, the epitome of recognition. You might think a broken pick isn't too glamorous. But that's where tradition and company culture come in. No award is more meaningful or more coveted at Communisync.
When presenting a coveted top award, do so with much excitement and joy. Show that you are thrilled to be a part of this great moment and to be sharing it with everyone in the room. Follow these five simple steps:
Tell the story and the philosophy of the award.
Lay out the success record and accomplishments of the recipient.
Explain how the accomplishments demonstrate the philosophy.
Hold the name until last even though they know who it is.
Say the name with gusto.