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Is Your Award a Show Stopper or Just a Door Stopper?

In 1939, playwright George Bernard Shaw was awarded the Academy Award for his screenplay for the movie version of Pygmalion. But Shaw wasn’t on hand to receive it. From England, he reportedly said, “It’s perfect nonsense! To offer me an award of this sort is an insult, as if they had never heard of me before — and it’s very likely they never had.” When Shaw died in 1950, his statuette was found to be in such bad shape that the curator who was turning his home into a museum used Oscar as a doorstop! Eventually, the statuette was repaired and is now displayed at the museum.

If such a famous award can find its way into the scrap pile what’s to stop your organization’s award from suffering a similar fate!? From a young age we are often inundated with so many trophies, medals, awards and plaques from playing Little League (you don’t even have to win to get the award!), winning 8th grade spelling bees, receiving scholarships, employee of the month plaques and so forth, that these tokens of appreciation often lose their value in the eyes of the recipients. Many organizations take pride in the custom award designs they come up with, and something like the SIGGRAPH series of awards, are truly works of art, but how can you make certain your recipients value your award as much as you value them?

1. Hand out fewer awards.

One of the reasons no one really cares about participation awards in Little League is that they aren’t special; everyone gets one. But the fewer awards there are to go around the more valuable they become to the recipient. Only one Best Picture of the Year, right? If you are trying to create an award simply so more people get the chance to walk across the stage you could actually be devaluing the whole ceremony, so just honor those who really deserve it!

2. Choose a custom design over a stock trophy.

While a golden number one might look nice on stage, it’s not that impressive up close…unless it were made from real gold of course! Instead of pulling a stock trophy design from a catalogue why not opt for a totally customized award design? With a custom award you get to control every single detail and make sure the award is a true reflection of your organization and the spirit of the award. For instance, SISSGRAPH awards are a 3D sculpture design based on the SIGGRAPH logo. The actual trophies based on this design stand approximately 7” tall. They are cast in pewter, and feature a brushed pewter finish. The achievement sculptures are mounted on a 2” tall black marble base that features the SIGGRAPH conference logo and logotype, the award name, and the award recipient name. No need for “close enough” when it comes to designing a custom award!

3. Turn your awards ceremony into a real event.

You don’t have to throw an Oscar-worthy party to turn your next awards ceremony into something people remember and enjoy. Even a casual at work BBQ can be the right setting provided you take the time to really recognize the people that deserve public recognition. Plan something nice to say about all your recipients and give them their chance to shine in the spotlight. When you make the whole ceremony a little more special the awards you hand out become a little more special as well.