Wanting to impress the judges who are reviewing your business award entry is, of course, a given.
Yet, it’s amazing how many business award entrants fail to consider how they can make a great impression on the judges. Your award entry only has a few minutes to make an impact. So it makes sense to present the best possible entry.
We spoke to three award entry judges, all of whom agreed that there are two key ways that business award entries can grab the judges’ attention – for the right reasons.
Rosemary Gillespie, a judge on the prestigious Consensus Awards, is always struck by how entrants don’t take the opportunity to simply and clearly answer the questions. This means that the judges don’t ‘get’ what the entrant has done and the results.
‘Many entrants have great products or services to showcase, but they don’t address the questions set in the award entry,’ she says. ‘Often, they’ll copy and paste content from their marketing materials and try to make it fit the question. It’s always so obvious as their responses are too general. And it immediately brings their award entry down in the judges’ eyes.’
Two seasoned business award judges in the IT industry, Erin Mikan and John McVicker, agree with Rosemary that award entries need to clearly address the questions.
‘Many entries regurgitate their company’s marketing spiel,’ says John. ‘They don’t tailor their entries to the questions being asked. Entrants aren’t doing themselves any favours with the judges when they fail to address the questions properly; it’s tedious for judges to spend time trying to understand what it is about the entrant that deserves a win.’
Erin shares John’s experience. ‘So many entries have clearly been written by a company’s marketing team rather than by the person or team who has actually done the work,’ says Erin. ‘This takes away from their achievement because words are wasted giving unasked for detail about the company’s history or trying to “sell” the product.
Another mistake is that award entrants don’t present enough evidence for the positive impact that their team, product, service or project has had.
‘The opportunity to describe the benefits of the innovation or solution as fully as possible is lost – and that’s a shame because it could have been a winner,’ says Erin.
John too sees many entries that don’t highlight the results delivered by the award nominee or the project, product or service being nominated. ‘Succinctly setting out the results or outcomes with stats or data as evidence would make a big difference. Too many award entries don’t present firm evidence or a summary of what was achieved. Those that do instantly stand out. It’s so much easier to assess whether an entrant deserves an award win when they’ve clearly presented hard evidence for their successes,’ says John.
Erin believes that no matter what sector you’re in, you should always include what she calls “the human element”. ‘It’s by highlighting the impact that your innovation, project or research has on people that makes a business award entry so much more compelling,’ explains Erin. ‘The entrant should show how they’ve channelled their passion into solving a problem or achieving their goals and what the positive impact has been on their clients, customers, users, their team or their industry. Very often there are quite personal stories behind an achievement and they deserve to be shared. Bringing it back to people is exceptionally powerful and what gives a business award entry real heart.’
Rosemary is also struck by how poorly entrants present their submissions. ‘It’s obvious that entrants don’t read their entries before they submit them. Lots of entries are riddled with typos and grammatical errors, which gives a poor impression. Taking a few minutes to go back over the entry to check that it’s free of errors would make it so much easier for the judges to read. And if it’s easy for the judges to understand, that makes a much better impression,’ says Rosemary.