If you’re planning to enter for a business award you’re almost certainly going to be asked to complete a comprehensive entry form.  This is your first chance to make an impression – so make sure it’s a good one.

Award entries vary enormously from a short ‘pitch’ to having to answer several in depth questions (sometimes these aren’t actually questions, but instructions e.g. Tell us about your company’s biggest achievements.)

Here are my tips to making your first submission one that will stand out.

1.    Read it all before you start writing

It’s what your teacher told you in school – read the question first ,,, and answer the question that’s been asked, not the one you would have liked it to be!

Plan your answers out before you start writing.  Do a bullet list of what each one needs to include; this will make writing a focused response much easier. 

Do your first draft in Word rather than in the Awards online portal.  This enables you to get your word count right, if there’s a maximum number of words per answer and to run your response by colleagues or mentors.  It also saves accidentally hitting the submit button before you’re ready!

2.    Think like a judge

What do you think the judge will be looking for?  Read all the material that exists online about the awards so you get a feel of what kind of thing they’re focused on.  Especially anything that applies directly to the category you are applying for.

Look at previous winners of the category and any judges comments on them that may be available.  If you’re really keen, get in touch and talk to them about what they included in their submission so you can ensure you don’t miss any key pieces of information.

Give your submission to a couple of trusted business people who don’t work in your organisation and ask for constructive feedback.

3.    Write with energy and personality

The problem with awards submissions is that they tend to err on the formal and corporate side.  If you want your entry to really stand out use a punchy, conversational style.

Avoid the present continuous (i.e. give, not giving) and use short sentences and short paragraphs.  Stay away from old fashioned and cumbersome phrases and words – so NOT ‘thus’, instead use ‘so’.  When you’ve finished read your entry aloud – you’ll soon spot the bits that don’t work.

Ensure you plan to be well within any submission deadlines – once it’s gone, you’ve missed the boat!

Good luck!