Award Presentations and Recognition Speeches: A How-To Guide

How do you get the most out of your employee recognition program? It’s important to consider not only what kind of gifts you award but also how you award them. Studies have shown that public recognition events like banquets or ceremonies can enhance the effectiveness of your award program.

Awards granted in a public setting can feel more meaningful to the recipient. Additionally, when people witness others being recognized, they often share the feeling of being seen and valued, even if they are not receiving an award themselves. Because of this, public recognition events help magnify the recognition given, and they foster a positive culture of recognition throughout the organization.

Employees are at their happiest and most productive when they feel that their personal expertise and contributions are noted and valued. Because of this, recognition events should highlight each awardee’s individual personality and accomplishments. This means that recognition should be specific, relevant, and sincere. When recognition is tailored to the individual, it will be perceived as coming from a place of genuine appreciation. This is crucial when it comes to boosting morale and engagement. If employees do not perceive the sentiment behind an award as genuine, then the award program will not be as effective.

While it is acceptable to standardize awards ceremonies for the sake of efficiency and professionalism, it is also important to give them a human touch. During a recognition event, managers should draw attention to an awardee’s specific accomplishments. They can highlight the awardee’s particular duties and skills or reference challenges that they have helped the business overcome. Many employees, especially in public service industries, are motivated by the positive impact they have on others, whether that be patients, students, or customers, and this is something that ought to be recognized and celebrated. Managers can show that they care about their employees as people by recounting a fun anecdote or by referencing their interests and hobbies outside of work.

To sum up, employee recognition events are an important tool when it comes to increasing motivation, productivity, and retention. They can foster a welcoming and respectful working culture by showing employees that their work is seen and appreciated. To make the most of these events, managers should celebrate their employees’ individuality and display an open and honest appreciation of their hard work.

Check out our post, “Award Presentation Worksheet,” for a handy worksheet that can help get the ball rolling on your next presentation!







O’Flaherty, S., Sanders, M.T., & Whillans, A. (2021) ‘Research: A Little Recognition Can Provide a Big Morale Boost’, The Harvard Business Review. Available at:

Gallup (2022) ‘Unleashing the Human Element at Work: Transforming Workplaces Through Recognition’, Gallup. Available at:  Gallup-Workhuman-Transforming-Workplaces-Through-Recognition-Report.pdf

Gibson, K.R., O’Leary, K., Weintraub, J.R. (2020) ‘The Little Things that Make Employees Feel Appreciated’, Harvard Business Review. Available at:

Mann, A. & Dvorak, N. (2016) ‘Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact’, Gallup. Available at: Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact (