Writing an award entry form that makes judges want to read to the end is not rocket science, but it does take some time, energy and even imagination. Here are 6 top tips about what makes a good award entry.
1. Take your entry form seriously
If you want your application form to be taken seriously by the judges, you need to take it seriously.
- Check you are eligible – some awards are geographically specific, you may be eligible for more than one category, is there anything that could prohibit you from entering?
- Confirm submission dates – Give yourself time to gather facts, figures or case studies you need and plan in time for reading the content through before and after you have completed your form
- Write your answers in Word first so you can write freely and cut it down later – cut and paste the checklist of evidence the judges will be looking for to help you stick to the point.
2. Be clear on what the judges are looking for
All award categories will show the criteria you need to provide evidence of. For example, the WOBA categories are very clear on what the judges are looking for in your entries…
- Can you provide evidence to demonstrate or illustrate your answers?
- Try not to copy and paste from one category entry form to another – make every entry different
- Copy and paste or print out the criteria so you can easily refer to it as you write.
3. Personalise your entries
Judges read hundreds of entry forms, so your introduction is your first opportunity to capture their attention and pique their interest in you.
- Don’t cut and paste information from your website or corporate bio. Make it award and category specific and refer to the evidence required by the judges – weave this into your introduction amongst the basics of your business
- Introductions and summaries are usually word count restricted – another good reason for using Word first
- Include: What you do, why you do it, who you do it for, where you do it and how long you’ve been doing it
- Every category is different – your introduction to each application should be different and specific to each category too
- FOCUS – Your introduction goes back to the reasons you decided to enter this category.
4. Tell a good story
Stories make you stand out. Judges will find your entry form more interesting if you can back up a point with a good story.
- Tell the truth, don’t embellish, be objective – the judges may want to hear more if there is a judging interview
- Be passionate – let your passion and drive come through in the answers to the meatier questions; what makes you different? What has made your business successful? What obstacles have you overcome?
- Think of a problem – engaging stories often start with a problem or obstacle. Think of that, then demonstrate the solution and the outcome, even if it wasn’t as positive as you’d hoped
- Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes – everyone makes mistakes in business, resilience is an admirable quality. What’s important in an entry form is that you can demonstrate how you dealt with problems or mistakes and learned from them.
5. Back up your stories with evidence
There is nothing more powerful than third party quotes, figures or illustrations to add credibility and interest to an entry form.
- Photos/videos make an impact and add depth
- Quotes and testimonials – a client or customer testimonial are clear third-party evidence of why your different or to substantiate a USP.
- Facts and figures – showing growth and development, whether it’s sales, employees or client based is great evidence of success in business and another opportunity to show your pride.
6. Reviewing your entry form
Your entry form should be ready to complete now. Read through your word document and check your spelling and grammar, word counts and fragmented sentences which may occur after cutting and pasting.
- Have you stayed focused and evidenced what the judges are looking for?
- Have you told engaging stories, good or bad?
- Remove any industry jargon that a layperson may not understand
- Restrict and reduce waffle – keep to the point
- Use sub-headings and bullet points to break up the volume of writing
- Submit your entry BEFORE the closing date!
7. Bonus tip – Attend an Entry Form Workshop
The WOBA team wish you the best of luck in all your awards entries, but if you feel you’d like a little more help and a chance to discuss your entry and ideas with others, you can book onto one of our Entry Form Workshops, held in Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton. We cannot give you the answers, but we will help you find them for yourself.