Here’s some advice to become an industry award winner this year

Your best chance at winning an award has to do with both the content of your entry and the style of your presentation.

When Awards seasons rolls around each year for Contact Centres & Customer Experience, I hear the same questions around ‘who’ will win the industry awards and ‘what’ they did to win awards.

One question that I hear a lot sounds like this –

Don’t the folks who ‘naturally’ present well have a better chance of winning than those of us who feel nervous presenting to a panel of Judges?”

It’s a fair question and I thought I’d share my perspective about Award winners coming from the judging point of view.

Yes – presentation matters

Judges are human beings.

And as human beings they respond well to a clear engaging manner, tone and body language.

In an industry based on communication & Customer experience, it’s understood that Candidates will serve as role models for communication & experience.

So do great presenters gain an edge over those that don’t present so well?

Absolutely they do.

I was watching a reality TV show last night where the Contestant managed to get the Judges smiling, laughing and exchanging glances with each other during their presentation.


When I mentor Candidates for Awards I advise them to leave the Judges feeling better than when you walked in.

At the end of the judging day, after seeing so many Candidates, there are always certain folks that stand out in your mind. And it helps to be one of them.

Yes, content matters too.  And with expert Judges, even more than presentation.

I read a short post from a well respected Customer experience guru recently.

He had been invited to be a Judge at a Customer experience event in the UK.

His post was along the lines of –

“The Candidates were all very proud of what they had done. But from a CX maturity point of view, what they had done wasn’t all that impressive…”

That post really resonated with me.

Folks working in Contact Centres, Customer Service & Customer Experience talk constantly about how fast the industry is moving and how important it is to keep pace with Customer expectations.

But is the content shared during the judging process experimental? Or is it expected?

By now, Judges expect that you’ve got your process house in order.

The key now is to share what’s new, what’s different, what you’re trying now, what’s worked and what hasn’t.  This is the stuff Judges want to hear.

Imagine a simple matrix that measures Presentation quality on the vertical axis (from low to high) and Content quality on the horizontal axis (from low to high)

In the blue box we see –

Great presentation skills but expected or even less than expected content.

For example, it’s great that you do transaction coaching – shouldn’t everyone?

If you’re doing transaction coaching, tell us how it aligns to organizational goals and overall CX strategies.

Tell us how you continuously improved the process to make it more efficient and more effective over time.

Folks that operate within the blue box tend to be super happy with themselves and their organizations and that’s a great thing.

But being happy with yourself doesn’t mean you’re Award winning.

In the yellow box we see –

Less than stellar presentation but more than expected content.

As a Judge, I always assign more weight to content than I do to presentation skills.

In an industry as dynamic as ours, its those who try new things (and perhaps fail), that impress much more than those who are just getting the basics right.

To help me differentiate on content I also look a lot for those who face and work ‘outwards’ vs. those who work or face ‘inwards’.

Inward looking Candidates focus on their Centre (or department) and what happens in the Centre. There’s typically a lot of discussion on KPIs.  It becomes very touchpoint focused.

Inward looking Candidates talk less (if at all) about the Centre as part of a larger eco-system or as a key contributor to overall organizational purpose & objectives.

You don’t hear much about the linkages between the Centre and the Organization at large.

You don’t hear enough about journeys.

Outward looking Candidates talk about their role within the larger organization and share their wins (and failures) in achieving organizational purpose & objectives.

In particular I look for thought leadership and the breaking down of organizational silos.

You hear a lot more about journeys.

In the world of Customer experience, none of us is an island.

It’s exciting to listen to and interact with outward facing folks who seem to understand that.


Today people throw around the words ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation’ willy nilly and often without context.

But when you listen to Awards presentations you seldom hear much that sounds innovative or disruptive.

Perhaps there is a misguided perception that it is better to play it safe.  But that makes for a dull presentation.

 In the red box we see –

The Winners – or at least those who deserve to win.

Memorable presentation combined with inspiring content.

In the green box we see –

Individuals & Centres who were pushed into the Awards process.

Some Organizations just throw in a bunch of Candidates with the hope that they just might win an Award.

We also see the Candidates & Organizations that waited till the last minute to prepare.   To Judges, this lack of preparation is blatantly obvious.

As the years go by, the gap between high performing Awards entrants and low performing Awards entrants is widening.

In short, the good Candidates are really good, while the not so good Candidates can feel achingly behind.

This is one reason why I always advise individuals to try and work for the very best organizations that they can.

The odds of learning and growing are always better when you work for a better organization.

In closing

I heartily support entering a quality Awards program.

I think that the process of entering makes you smarter and better.  And that the more seriously you take the process, the more you get out of it.

But as you prepare for Awards season – hopefully months in advance – consider the role of Content and the role of Presentation.

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