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How to Present an Award

Presenting an award to an employee, business partner or customer is an honor in itself. It’s exciting to be able to celebrate someone’s accomplishments and how he has added value to the business. Whether you’re honoring an employee for 20 years of service or celebrating a customer’s milestone with using your products, carefully plan your award presentation to ensure you make it a special moment for the recipient.

Get the Logistics Straight

The first step to take before presenting an award is to understand the important details. Who is the award recognizing? Ensure that you know how to pronounce the person's full name correctly. This shows respect for the recipient. Getting the name wrong during the awards ceremony can be embarrassing.

If you’re presenting the award during an event with other items on the agenda, be sure to know when it is your turn. Keep in mind how long you have to present the award so that you write a speech that doesn’t go over the allotted time. Know where the actual award or certificate of recognition is kept and whether you’re responsible for bringing it up on the stage with you when you present.

Start With a Relatable Anecdote

Begin your award speech for recognition with a personal or humorous story about the recipient. Some people prefer to keep the name of the winner a secret until the end of the speech. Others choose to say it right away when presenting the award. Either way, break the ice by telling a story and making it relatable.

For example, you could say, “The winner of this award has been with the company as long as I have. I remember my first day on the job. I was nervous and afraid that I would make a mistake. Little did I know that she had my back. I think this is something many of us can say about our first days here. A very special guardian angel ensured that we all succeeded even though we were scared and nervous.

Make Presenting an Award About the Winner

Keep the focus on the recipient of the award. Say a few lines about why he is worthy of this recognition. Keep your speech centered on his accomplishments, experiences and ways he has contributed to the organization. Refrain from telling a story about yourself or how you have made those contributions. It’s important to keep the attention on the winner instead.

A customer service award speech example might be: “Darlene is a customer favorite. She starts each day with a smile and greets every customer as though they are the most important person in the room. Customers always provide me with feedback on how much they love speaking with her. She’s there to answer their questions and quell their worries.”

Don’t talk about your experience in this situation. For example, don’t say, “I really think Darlene is a good customer service rep because I have taught her everything she knows. I trained her when she was just starting out.” Unless it’s said in jest, this kind of speech takes the focus away from the winner and places it on you, which is not best practice for presenting an award.

Keep it Short and Step Aside

Your awards speech should be short and to the point. Don’t spend a long time talking because the audience will want to see who the winner is and hear his acceptance speech. Keep your award presentation to a few minutes at the most. After you’ve handed the award over to the winner, step aside and let the winner have the floor.

When presenting the trophy or certificate to the winner, be sure to hold it with respect. This shows the audience and the winner what kind of value the award holds.


Anam Ahmed is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. She writes on everything from business to parenting, travel to technology. Learn more at