Sunday, October 31, 2010

Public Speaking Tips: Presenting Awards

In the last several months I've seen numerous lawyers present awards at various events. Simply put, we can all improve. For some people, improvement starts with these basic do's and don'ts.

How to Present an Award:
  1. Do prepare by researching the award and the recipient. If possible, talk with the recipient ahead of time, even if it's only a few minutes before the presentation. The audience can tell from your remarks and body language whether you've met the recipient. Isn't it nicer when you can tell that the presenter has personally met the recipient and knows more than how to pronounce the person's name? Don't admit that you just met the person for the first time a minute beforehand.
  2. Do state the significance of the award, even if it's an award that you think is obvious such as the Pro Bono Spirit Award. Also, if the person after whom the award is named is present, acknowledge his or her presence. I saw a lawyer forget to do this earlier this year - - at least one good reason to have a written outline no matter how familiar you are with the award and the winner.
  3. Do state the criteria for the award.
  4. Do describe how the recipient met the criteria and how he or she was chosen.
  5. Do say you are [fill in the blank] to present the [XYZ] Award to [recipient's name] as you gesture warmly toward the recipient to welcome him or her up to receive the award.
  6. Do know where the award is and have it ready. Don't hunt for it on the table behind you. It's not an afterthought.
  7. Do handle the award as if it is valuable.
  8. Do smile and make eye contact with the recipient as you hand him or her the award.
  9. Don't read verbatim from the recipient's list of accomplishments. Choose highlights relevant to the award, tell a story or be conversational in other ways.
  10. Don't call the recipient to the podium before you make your remarks. We've all sympathized with award winners standing awkwardly at the front of a room while they are praised. Don't impose that on anyone!

Last, if you are nervous, stay focused on the award and the deserving recipient instead of yourself. Put your energy into honoring him or her!

If you would like coaching to start being a better public speaker, please contact me.