Virtual Award Event Preparation and Planning

Award Event Preparation and Planning for 2021

Hosting a virtual event for your affiliate is a wonderful way to honor your affiliate awardees with an online celebration! The applicants and awardees of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program represent a rich and viable source of young women highly qualified to enter the computing and IT workforce. Recognizing and encouraging their interests at this early stage could be the catalyst that propels them into studying computer science in college and ultimately pursuing a career in computing and information technology.

We strongly recommend all Affiliates move forward with a virtual event plan for 2021. NCWIT staff will not be traveling during the 2021 event season and we do not know if that will change at any point during this calendar year. There are many indications provided by federal, state and local regulators (in addition to companies and academic institutions) that COVID restrictions will continue through the summer if not the end of 2021. We are all longing for the possibility to gather and celebrate in person again and we hope that we will be able to do so in 2022. If you still wish to hold out for the possibility of hosting an in-person event this year, you must follow all federal, state and local guidance for in-person events.
Live Virtual Events vs. Pre-recorded: We encourage holding a live virtual event whenever possible. The live component fosters a connection between the award recipients, which is not replicated through entirely pre-recorded events. However, if a live virtual event is not in the cards for this year, then we look forward to seeing your pre-recorded event. The AiC Team is happy to help support your virtual events and assist in arranging any live components (Zoom, Glimpse, etc.)

HOLDING AN AiC Virtual event

Trophies and Swag

Decide to ship your trophies either before the event (so they can have them during the ceremony, or after (so you can get them excited to receive a special package in the mail!).  Please review the 2021 Award for AiC Affiliate Prize Distribution Guide for more details and suggestions! Swag will be mailed directly to each of your awardees by Swag Up (NCWIT will send an email out to all awardees with instructions on how to request swag).

Planning The Event

While your virtual event cannot replace the in person event with the same jocularity and interpersonal experience, you can still celebrate and honor your awardees. You may consider different types of events based on the parameters of your individual affiliate.
If you have multiple awardees at different levels, consider breaking it up into different mini-events. Utilize your volunteer members to plan each one separately.  Engage your RAM and your volunteer committee members for logistical support the day of your event.
Please be aware of time constraints! Plan accordingly and allow for enough time to honor your awardees and celebrate with a guest speaker/s and/or do a fun group activity. We suggest award ceremonies to be between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the number of awardees you will be hosting. We strongly suggest that no award event be longer than 2 hours. 
Details to consider for determining what type of virtual event you will have.

HOW and WHEN will you have your event?

  • Scale - How many awardees does your affiliate have? The number of awardees you have attending will determine the best type and timing of your event.
  • Small: <20 awardees   
    • Fireside Chat. An event for this size group can be intimate and personal. It can include conversation and participation from awardees, educators and parents. Use their bios and/or suggestions for the future as starter discussion points. Read about what their educator wrote about them! Ask the awardees to give advice to one another!
  • Medium: 20-50 awardees
    • Meetup. This is more of a presentation type style event with the option of “random breakout room” time. This can help make the event seem smaller and help awardees connect. (NCWIT Host should be able to orchestrate that with proper planning). Consider breakout rooms with topic facilitators identified ahead of time for each room with preset, open-ended questions prepared.
  • Large: >50 awardees
    • ​Webinar. This format works well for presenting to a large group. Participants remain off screen. You may elect to create a powerpoint presentation (NCWIT can provide a slide deck) and perhaps have a keynote speaker. Questions are handled through a private Q&A chat window.

Programming & Content

WHAT will you do?

  • Show videos or pre-recorded messages?
  • Show the AiC congratulations video
  • Will you use polls to interact with participants?
  • Will you use Breakout Rooms? Plan a special pre-determined activity that is CS or STEM related. Perhaps your panelists can each facilitate a breakout session/discussion.
  • Is there a live keynote speaker? Are they familiar with Zoom/delivery platform?  Will they be using a slide deck? Include them in your dress rehearsal and practice screen share.
  • Will you create and show a slide deck of your awardees? What will it include? Pictures/bios?
  • What is your plan for honoring each recipient at the virtual event? Will you announce each name? Have a rolling list scrolling across the screen while music plays? Ask them to speak or someone else share bio? Is there another unique way to honor and award them all?

Before The Event

  1. Select a platform to host your online event. There are many options to choose from. Please note that not all virtual platforms run on every browser!  If you choose to use Zoom, you may use our NCWIT account. Please let your RAM know so we can schedule that for you. Understand the technical limitations of the platform you choose to use. *Participants will need to download the Zoom app if they are watching from their phones.
    • Rural areas may not be able to easily access some videoconferencing platforms due to bandwidth or connectivity issues, so definitely have a plan to cover that possibility. Maybe host a radio interview at the local station?
  2. Setup Zoom “Host a Meeting”. Make certain that you include different levels of security so that your event will not get ‘zoom-bombed’. This includes setting up a waiting room, logon password and/or sending out the zoom login to your attendees 15-20 minutes prior to your event. Review Zoom's resources for meeting and webinar best practices.
    • Send a “Save the Date” email invitation to your awardees, educators, ViPs. Include a special note to them inviting everyone under the same roof to join in your celebration! Make sure it contains the login instructions and a start and end time. Encourage families to have refreshments/special treats to enjoy at home after your virtual event. In your invitation, make sure to include Zoom (or your preferred platform) directions, including a call-in option, which browser is preferred and a note to make sure attendees check their camera and audio prior to the event.
  3. Identify and confirm panelists, keynote speakers, NCWIT staff and event volunteers.
  4. Do a dress rehearsal a few days prior to the live event. Have your speaker/s logistical team join. Share and run through the script. Test for lighting, sound, backgrounds, breakout rooms and screen share (if using).  Make sure the eyes of the speaker are set to look directly into the camera (this becomes more of a problem when a 2nd camera is being used to broadcast). Set success expectations for your team.
  5. Supply any social media links to your participants and to your RAM that you want referenced or tagged! This will help in sharing out your event to others! Make sure to take a screen capture to post as a picture on our flickr account.  For tips on social media best practices, you can view the notes from our fall webinar led by Snehal Bhakta.

After the Event

  1. Congratulate yourself on a job well done and well planned!
  2. Send out an email thanking everyone for attending.
  3. Include the link to the post-event survey:
  4. Post your screen capture picture on our NCWIT flickr account and on your social media feeds.
    • Aspirations Award Photos


      Password: Aspirations20
      (if asked, say "I'll secure my account later" when asked to Verify the account)
      Create a new album in this format: the award Year + your Affiliate Name (e.g., "2021 New Jersey") for your uploads
      Your accurate Affiliate Name appears on your Dashboard, on your Trophies, under "Connect Locally", etc.


  • Each program should consist of these basic 4 blocks:
  1. Pre-program Notes
  2. Welcome
  3. Presentation
  4. Closing



Award Event Committees, Speakers & Agendas

Using the Affiliate Committee structure explained elsewhere, a committee chair has already been designated to plan and manage the award event. The award event committee members can come from industry, non-profits, or the academic community. We highly recommend recruiting past award winners to advise on planning an event that best serves the needs of the awardees, in addition to using the results of the Event Evaluations that NCWIT compiles for your Affiliate. If you would like to be connected to a local award winner, email All committee members must register via the portal.


The purpose of the event is to recognize the Awardees. Speakers, dignitaries, recognizing sponsors and other activities should be secondary but can be inspirational.

Some Affiliates choose to have a keynote speaker for the award event, but it is not required. If you do have any speakers, please use the "Talking Points for Presenters" to help make sure that your speaker is sending an appropriate message for young women in computing. If you have speakers or others, it's great to ask them to participate in presenting the awards and pose in the photos with the girls.

Idea: Invite a member of the media (TV or radio personality) to be a speaker or help present the awards. This will help ensure coverage of the event. The event program should last no longer than 2 hours. If you are anticipating a large number of award recipients (20-25), make sure to plan your event accordingly. It can take a long time for 25 girls to process to the stage, receive the award, take a picture, etc.


Affiliates should request bios from all awardees. These can be read at the award event. Reading the bios of the awardees helps acknowledge the awardees’ many accomplishments and can be very impressive to the audience (and sponsors). The bios are typically included in the Event Program, which can serve as a keepsake for the Awardees. You may consider asking recipients to cut their bios to a certain length, suitable for reading aloud, in order to keep the ceremony moving along.

Do NOT wait until just a few weeks before the event. Note: Awardees are technical and use a lot of acronyms in their essays. Make sure the person reading the bios at the event recognizes the most common tech acronyms and their common pronunciation (and how to pronounce the acronym NCWIT!).

You will need photos of the Award recipients for the Event Program and Presentation. Include the request for a headshot in your award event communications with the awardees. This request can also be made in the notification email that asks awardees to agree to accept the award. Work with the Review/Selection committee to include this info. Be sure to ask them for a high-resolution (min 1MB) headshot. Make sure to ask far in advance, as some are slow to respond, have a hard time finding an appropriate photo, or don't check their email often. We ask for the headshot as part of their profile, but they often upload low quality images that won't work for your program, so make sure you take a look ahead of time. All of the Awardees and their parents will have signed a photo release online in the process of applying for the award. 

Important: When hiring the event photographer, make sure that the contract assigns all rights to the photographs to NCWIT and that they agree NOT to use the photos in their portfolio without express permission from NCWIT. Since the Awardees are minors, the photos cannot be used for any purposes unrelated to the Award. 


Final Preparation for Event Day

Go over our proposed Checklist before Event Day to help you prepare for all the details that will be important at the event!