11 tips for writing a top award submission

Posted by Oliver Hogue on 05/11/2018
Award submission writing

If you’re faced with writing an award submission, take a deep breath. It’s not as daunting as it seems. 

Engage your judge with a compelling, on-point story, including all the relevant facts, and you have a real advantage.

Learning to navigate the process can help you write a winning submission in any sector. Here’s how.

1. Prepare the ground

Resist the urge to plunge in. Read all instructions carefully before you start. This ensures you don’t miss or misread critical steps. 

Gather all relevant resources together so everything you need is at hand, and leave yourself plenty of time to write and then double check and submit.

2. Check your eligibility

Wouldn’t it be awful to craft a great submission, then discover you are not eligible to receive the award? It can happen.

Check you meet all eligibility requirements in terms of legalities, business type and timelines before embarking on your submission journey.

3. Know the judging criteria

Writing a submission is, in some ways, similar to a job application. Unless you address keywords and key performance indicators, you may miss the mark.

Work out the keywords and criteria the assessor will use when evaluating your submission. If health, safety, sustainability, innovation or speed to market are top priorities, show exactly how these criteria feature in your achievements.

4. Do what you are asked to do

Read and reread the instructions to ensure you supply the right information. Trusting to luck could make your application invalid.

  • Don’t give a politician’s response by answering your own question – just answer the question you are asked.
  • Use language which is simple to read and understand – make things easy for your assessors.
  • Stay within the word count – exceeding this could strike you out.
  • Optimise the information you give – make clear, concise points using short sentences and paragraphs.
  • Meet the brief – work out exactly what the questioner wants from you, then supply it.

5. Show, don’t tell

Back up all claims with genuine evidence. This means presenting the relevant facts and testimonials to showcase your achievements. Reports, surveys and statistics may be required to demonstrate your case.

Remember the old adage: Show, don’t tell. Rather than telling your assessor how wonderful you are, supply the figures and facts which bear this out.

6. Stay grounded

You don’t have to sell yourself in obvious ways. Let the facts speak for themselves and maximise your chance of winning the judge’s attention.

Avoid marketing jargon, hype and over-inflated claims. Be realistic about what’s possible in the future and honest about what you’ve achieved so far. Do you really want to win an award for something you haven’t actually done?

7. Know your audience

Do a little homework to work out who your judges are. It’s likely to be a panel with a mix of skills, backgrounds and cultures.

Tailor your submission to suit their likely points of view. Once you know the issues important to them, you can customise your application to cover a range of angles.

8. Do your homework

Research is essential to a winning submission. Work out the attributes which appeal to the judges by studying the award criteria carefully and looking at previous winners.

Explore the award website to uncover different aspects of winning pitch and presentation. Real insight can be gained into the stand-out qualities your assessors will be seeking.

9. Tell your story

Judges get bored with submissions which bog them down in hard facts or take them all around the houses. The best submissions carry the reader along with a strong, compelling storyline.

Fully engage the assessor with a genuinely exciting story. Do this by working out the issues you’ve faced, challenges you’ve overcome and goals you never thought you’d reach. Package up the facts in a narrative which makes it impossible for the judges to overlook you! 

10. Start with a bang

The most striking submissions hook their reader right at the start – and don’t let go.

Strong starters stand the best chance of success. This means working out a great opening paragraph which develops into a strong and consistent first page.

An executive summary is a good opening gambit to sum up your entire submission. This should include achievements and reasons for success along with the central message that makes you unique.

11. Be professional

Once you’re happy with the content, consider using professional editing, proofreading and formatting services to present it properly. Include all relevant images, videos and graphics for optimum impact.

Need some expert help?

We have extensive experience in writing award submissions across a variety of sectors. Among others, we have created submissions for the Australian Engineers Excellence Awards, Women in Defence Awards, Master Builders Association Excellence in Construction Awards, and the Australian Construction Achievement Awards.

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