Boring to Buzzing: Pro Tips on Glamming Up Your Chapter Awards

You don’t need Lady Gaga on stage to glam up your chapter awards. But if you’ve been following the same old script for years, maybe it’s time to rethink how you do things. Don’t worry, we’re talking an Oscar Mayer budget here, not an Oscars budget.

Welcome to the final post in our four-part chapter awards series. Here’s a sneak peek at what you may have missed so far.

  • Part 1: Revisiting the purpose of chapter awards programs and common types of chapter awards
  • Part 2: Unconventional approaches to chapter awards, encouraging award entries, and improving the submission process
  • Part 3: Scoring and selecting award winners, and chapter awards prizes


Now, on to the big show.

Do Your Chapter Awards Spark Joy?


Award winners deserve a bigger audience than just the people who attend the awards presentation. Make a big deal of the event by promoting a livestream of the ceremony on your website and social platforms.

Livestreamed events have a better chance of succeeding when you have a dedicated host for your virtual audience. The virtual host can warm up the crowd with trivia contests and other icebreakers—a good way for them to share stories too.

Post the video recording on your website and YouTube channel. Depending on the length, you may want to break it up into parts, so people are more likely to click on it when they have a little time to spare.

Tip #5: Brag about small wins


Are the only people at your awards presentation the ones who have some skin in the game (award applicants) and the ones who feel obliged to go (staff and leaders)? Associations always wrestle with this challenge, but a few have experimented successfully with new approaches.

The Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA)’s new awards reception and ceremony takes place 15 minutes after the last annual conference session. “The benefit of structuring it this way is that you are capturing your audience, and you’re making it so that they’re not going to leave and go up to their room,” said Kim Pawlak, director of publishing and operations, in an Associations Now article.

Louise Ristau, CAE, is the executive director of the Awards and Personalization Association, so naturally she shared some great advice in another Associations Now article.

For your ceremony’s host, she said, “Identify a member who has charisma, who has a presence that can serve as a host. They may appreciate the opportunity to help out, and if they’re well-received, they might serve in that capacity for several years.”

You definitely must develop a script for the event. The presentations segment should be “30 to 45 minutes tops.” Louise suggested using “graphics, videos, photos—whatever your budget allows.” These formats “help to add another dimension to the presentation to keep it interesting.”

Consider creating a template ahead of time for presenters and winners so they keep their speech meaningful and to the point—focusing on the why, what, and how.

Louise suggested recruiting award presenters who know the recipients and can help craft introductions. “They might have a story about that recipient from 10 years ago that the person writing the script doesn’t know about,” she said. They “can get personal and share the emotion behind the award.”

Sarah Lawler, a marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years of experience with association awards programs, said in that same Associations Now article, “Use video to tell the awardee’s story so when they come up to the mic that part is covered and they can get right to the thank you’s.”

She suggested scheduling a half-hour rehearsal with the hosts, presenters, and recipients—if they’re not surprise awards—to walk through the logistics.

6 Steps to Identifying Chapter Bright Spots—Glimmers of Shareable Success


Chapter awards have an educational purpose: to share success stories (and lessons learned) with other chapters. It takes a great deal of work on the chapter’s part to submit an awards application, and on the National staff and volunteers’ part to score applications and select winners. These stories deserve a longer life.

Create evergreen content from your award-winning success stories.

  1. Turn them into case studies for your chapter leader resource center on your website.
  2. Repurpose the case studies into blog posts.
  3. Interview the winners for videos that you post on your website, blog, social platforms, and YouTube channel. ASAE does that for their Power of A Awards.
  4. Transcribe the recordings, edit the transcript into a Q&A post, and turn that into another resource for your blog and website.


Ask chapter award winners to present their story at your chapter leadership conference and in webinars.

Louise Ristau said, “You award people one night, but you have to celebrate the awards throughout the year, keep the awareness level up, and get people excited about the possibility of achieving the award themselves.”

About the author

Charlotte Muylaert is the former Marketing Leader at Billhighway and greekbill. She oversaw the marketing and branding strategies for 10 years in the fraternal and association markets.