Last week we looked at the importance of photographs and making sure your chosen image sends out the right kind of signal. We love a good photograph here at The Awards People, but we must say that our ‘area of expertise’, if you will, is words. The written word plays such a large role in everything we do and, of course, we’d be hard pushed to write an award application if we didn’t use the right language. Appreciating that many of our blog readers may be writing their own entries, we thought it might be good to give our top tips on what you should think about before you put pen to paper.
Firstly, take a breath. Those who dive straight in without considering the whole task ahead tend to either run out of steam, lose the plot or, worse still, become very repetitive. You have one application form to illustrate your greatness but remember that it has been sectioned to address specific features of your achievements and, therefore, the information within each should be different. That’s not to say that you can’t use the same example to illustrate two different qualities you have exhibited, but it is essential that in each case the aspect is altered to answer ACCURATELY the actual question being asked.
Try to always visualise one person reading through your submission at one sitting. At the same time think about how you would feel if you saw the same details being repeated – Bored? Uninspired? Underwhelmed? The judges want to get the whole picture of you, your business and what exactly makes it more than just ‘average’ so make sure you have used the opportunity to illustrate as many different aspects of your approach as possible, your knowledge of your subject and your determination to succeed.
So, accepting that you’re not going to be repeating yourself AT ALL then what else can we recommend? Here’s a process we think is a great starting point: –
- Read the application and the individual sections a number of times when you are relaxed and away from the buzz of the office
- Write some notes on what you think the judges may be looking for – do this each time you read the document through and make sure your notes match every time (if you have any degree of ambiguity don’t’ be afraid to ask someone else for their opinion)
- On a separate sheet write down what you think are your best qualities and what makes you stand out from your peers and try to section this into headings – e.g. diversification may come under the heading of ‘Responding to Market Changes’
- Compare your headings against what you believe the judges are asking for and see what matches you get – this will give you an idea of what feature you will speak about in each area
- Check on word counts and make sure that you know exactly how many characters you are allowed – it’s always much harder to edit than to keep it short in the first place so try to be succinct even in your first draft
- Have your most critical head on when you read through your answers and ask yourself if you knew nothing about your background or industry would you understand everything you’ve written? Are you sure there’s no jargon in there?
- Don’t be embarrassed about reverting to a good old tick list – have I answered that question / addressed that point? (Another good time to turn to a trusted friend or colleague!)
Hopefully the above suggestions will just give you a little more direction when embarking on a task which can, for most, be quite daunting (not to mention time-consuming). The more astute readers may notice that we haven’t touched upon the subjects of grammar, punctuation, language etc. To avoid an even longer post than this has already become, we will leave those areas for another day…