I’ve written about awards and ceremonies before and that I think they serve a useful purpose. Then this past week I saw how these useful awards which bring nations together, serve as an instrument of foreign policy, should be done.
Of course, there are sceptics of awards, who speak of proliferation, or how the ‘same faces’ appear. But actually, when done right they can have a bigger purpose, like the Asian Achievers Awards of this paper which not only raises funds, but also highlights unsung heroes of the community. Or the UK-India Awards about which I want to write and I just attended that raised funds for a British Asian Trust (BAT) Charity. The BAT allows children in trouble in India to call a single local number to reach multi-lingual speakers to assist them.
Key lessons for not just these international awards, but all awards, from my time at the UK-India Awards hosted by the IndiaInc team and Manoj and Dina Ladwa – probably the best Awards I’ve been to in a decade are as follows:
1. Great venue. Ample room between tables. How often has an evening been ruined by too many people cramped into too few tables and barely able to move around to see speakers, let alone fit their stomachs in between a chair and table?
2. Good solid short speeches. No scripts. Very few speakers. All to the point. Leaving you wanting more, not wanting to sleep. I wonder if it should always be a rule to forbid notes. (Except for the host and MC who of course have people to co-ordinate).
3. Excellent food. Table service. I know budgets sometimes require those rotating things – where you just know the man with the third glass of red wine is going to spill it because the bloke on the opposite side just has to spin the food to get the fresh naans. No faffing with salads and naans – the former are pointless and the latter are never done right.
4. Food before speeches. A well fed audience is a happy audience. Courses interspersed with awards. Honestly, people do not come for the Awards, except the friends and family of the recipient. So you have to get the food right and the speeches short.
5. Outstanding live band. Modern twist to old songs.
6. Awards announced by video introduction. High energy. No speeches by the winners except by those worthy of standing ovations e.g. Sir Mark Tully. Not too many awards. Well done Event Gurus.
7. Dancers of traditional culture not the sexist Bollywood item women and children in skimpy outfits with lipstick smacked on their lips.
8. Kept to time. Keeping to schedule.
9. Excellent professional high energy MC. One. Not two. You never need two. A new face. Unexpected choice. Thanked her afterwards as I did as many I could meet who were involved.
10. No impromptu speeches throwing timings off.
11. Humanity and authenticity to speeches. Eg: Manoj thanking his wife and Karan's personal stories and Mark Tully praising his daughter in law. And of course Mark mentioning how by keeping India in our hearts both UK and India keep this special relationship alive. Hope someone transcribed his words.
Well done Manoj and Dina Ladwa both for the links you keep between UK-India, the immense hard work for a whole week of it and for making it fun. But for the bigger purpose you recognise – which you always have in your work. Loved it.