Public Speaking: How to Present Awards and Control Applause

June 24th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

applauseHere is an advanced tip for anyone who presents multiple awards to a large group.

The next time you attend a graduation or awards ceremony, watch and notice…usually the presenter is on a tight agenda; so she requests “everyone please hold your applause until the last award recipient is named.” This request is usually made when there is a large number of recipients for the same award, for example, perfect attendance.  Here is what almost always happens: the first name is called, and there is an awkward pause followed by few people clapping; the second name is called and about half the audience applauds, the third name is announced and everyone claps.  From that point on, the presenter pauses after each name to allow for applause.  Now, she is running into the next presenter’s time on the agenda.

This happens at almost every awards banquet and graduation. Here are the mistakes and how to avoid them:

Mistake 1:  Weak verbal request. What makes it weak?  It is not followed by a pause. In addition, it is articulated far too quickly. Finish your previous point, pause and slow your rate of speech. In a loud and clear voice state, “To stay on target with our timing, I will be announcing 12 recipients for this award . . .  PLEASE . . . HOLD . .  YOUR . . . APPLAUSE until the last name is announced.”

Mistake 2: Poor placement of the request. This request will not work if you say anything else before announcing the recipients. An example of this mistake: “Please hold your applause until the final name is announced. All these people have 100% attendance in their programs of study; the first award goes to David Adams . . .”  The secret is to make the request and immediately launch right into the names.

Mistake 3: The awkward pause after the first name is announced. If you pause too long after your first announcement, there will be an awkward silence followed by a weak sputtering of clapping, which has that popcorn sound. Here’s the key. You asked them to hold applause until the end, now you must read the names fluidly with only a minor pause between them.

Mistake 4: Not responding to applause. If the audience does applaud, you need to immediately stop and restate your request “I love your enthusiasm, but . . . PLEASE . . . HOLD . . . YOUR . . . APPLAUSE . . .until the end”.

There it is. I’ve seen it done right on rare occasion, but when these mistakes are avoided, the event runs far more smoothly. You avoid awkwardness and keep within your time constraints. Next time you attend an awards banquet or graduation, check in with us, and tell us whether you witnessed these all-to-common mistakes.


How to get applause.

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7 Responses to “Public Speaking: How to Present Awards and Control Applause”

  1. Jason Kallio Says:

    Thanks for the post. I just want you to know, I held my applause until I finished reading.

  2. Frank Damelio Says:

    LOL – that’s funny!!

  3. Bella Nox Says:

    This is a good tip! 🙂

  4. Frank Aubuchon Says:

    Thanks for the help with “crowd control.”

  5. Frank Damelio Says:

    Frank A, thank for checking in!

    Bella nox, thanks for the smile 🙂

  6. Target Intellect Blog » Public Speaking: Getting Applause Says:

    […] SuccessTrade Show StrategyCreating a Winning TeamSales Success Share & Learn « Public Speaking: How to Present Awards and Control Applause Public Speaking: Gestures […]

  7. Elfriede Roofe Says:

    I know it’s no where near as good as you interesting posts here but let me at least give you a smile as a form of thanks for your hard work writing this stuff?

    A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular. 🙂

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