11 award submission tips you can’t afford to skip

Winning an industry award for your achievements and for the services you deliver is a great boost for your personal brand, as well as for the brand of your organisation. Writing a submission for an award can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are 11 tips you can’t afford to skip when writing a stand-out award submission.

1. Tailor your content to the award

When writing an award submission, it’s important to write for the reader, ie the judges. Think about what judges are looking for. Criteria for awards may have some commonalities and some differences. Be careful when recycling content from other submission and make sure your responses are tailored to the award you’re submitting for. If any of the content you’re writing doesn’t add value to your overall submission, consider editing. Remember that your award submission needs to stand out from the rest – write in an engaging and compelling voice which will resonate with the judges.

2. Respond to all of the questions

Incomplete award submissions can be common. Make sure you understand how the questions are weighted and respond accordingly. Incompleteness does not exude a strong submission because it infers either a rushed, last-minute submission, or that you weren’t able to answer all questions.

3. Exude a clear vision, mission and direction

Having a vision, mission and direction which is readily apparent to the judges in your submission will elevate you. Taking a strategic approach to your personal branding will have mapped these out and help you tell an overall story about where you’ve come from and what you have achieved, where you’re at  and where you and your career are headed in the future.

4. Back up your claims with evidence

Your achievements and successes need to be substantiated where possible. Quantify your achievements with data or provide qualitative feedback from recognisable industry participants. Making claims without evidence devalues your submission.

5. Focus on key messages first

Write initial drafts in Word to get thoughts out, rather than into the online submission form directly. Focus on what you need/want to write first which will form your key messages. This will ensure you are including all of the key points you want to cover about yourself and your achievements when addressing the award criteria. Worrying about how many words you’ve written after you’ve got all of your key messages covered – you can always edit later.

6. Ensure all answers are aligned and tell an overall story about you

Your overall submission should provide a narrative about why you are the best candidate for the award. Alignment of your answers will ensure that narrative arc. If you find you’re introducing new ideas or concepts in an answer which don’t support or align with the overall submission, consider an edit either to remove them or to include them throughout the submission.

7. Write with confidence, not arrogance

Writing with arrogance will be identifiable in your submission. Be objective and stick to the facts.

8. Don’t undersell

While humility is a laudable value, selling yourself short isn’t. When writing about yourself objectively and factually, ensure that your achievements and successes are clear and resonate. It’s about displaying the reasons and facts as to why you deserve the recognition of the award.

9. Each sentence needs to have a clear purpose

Award submissions are often structured to include limitations in how much you can submit. If there is no limitation, there will still be a limit as to how much a judge will want to read. Ensure every sentence has a clear purpose and that there is no unnecessary padding.

10. If needed, try writing in the third person

If you’re finding it difficult to get started with writing about yourself, try writing about yourself in the third person. Some people find this helps them to step out of themselves and to write objectively. You can always edit the content back into the first person later before you submit.

11. Ask a friend or colleague to review

If you’ve spent a lot of time on your submission, you may have grown accustomed to the content you’ve written and it can get harder to spot grammar mistakes or instances which may not be as clear. A second pair of eyes can help catch these. Ask a trusted friend or colleague who can provide a close review and edit while providing constructive feedback.

How you approach the writing of your award submission has a lot to do with your personal branding strategy. Those of you who already take a proactive approach to your personal branding will find the submission writing process easier. For those who haven’t yet, writing for an award submission represents a fantastic opportunity to get started with mapping our your personal branding strategy.

To help get you started, here are 10 personal branding mistakes that are easy to fix: