In this short article I share some suggestions for industry Awards entrants.
I like judging industry Awards
This year I’m scheduled to judge awards entries in Dubai, London, Amsterdam and Wiesbaden (Germany).
I think the benefits for an industry practitioner to judge an Awards are immense.
Because even if you work with a number of Clients in different industries and geographies – and even have some of your Clients enter and win Awards – your ‘exposure lens’ can still be narrower than it need be.
Judging Awards allows you to see what’s happening out there amongst organizations you may never work for or in geographies that you may not serve.
And it’s not always the ‘big names’ that put forward the best initiatives.
There’s a lot of gold out there in smaller and ‘local’ organizations too.
A few suggestions for industry Awards entrants
I tend to judge categories involving Customer Experience, Contact Centres, Digital Experience & Employee Experience.
So my suggestions here are drawn from those disciplines. But I imagine the suggestions here can be extrapolated to other disciplines as well.
And with suggestions in general, it’s not just what to do – it’s also what not to do.
Is it a Group Award category or an Individual Award category?
Recently I judged a Face to Face presentation for a ‘Group Award’. Unfortunately the Presenter used the word “I'” a lot.
I did this, I did that…because of me.
I looked down at the Judges timetable – yup this was a group award category. So why so much ‘I’?
My suggestion is this.
If you’re involved in a Group or Team Award, the word ‘we’ goes a long way.
On the other hand, if you’ve entered an Individual Award of some kind then it’s appropriate to talk about you. What you did, what you accomplished, how what you’ve done has made your organization a better place.
It’s great that you’ve won other Awards but…
In another judging experience, the Entrants began their Awards presentation by telling the Judges how many other awards they’d won.
It just felt awkward to have the presentation start off that way. I sensed entitlement – as in – we’ve won so many other awards that surely we’re entitled to this one too.
I’d suggest this.
If your other Awards or achievements are specifically relevant to the Award you’ve entered then it’s worth mentioning at the right time and in the right context.
For example, in an individual Award the Entrant might say, “I was inspired when I won the Team Manager of the Year back in 20XX and that motivated me to enter this year’s Manager of the Year Award.”
In this example, the Entrant’s sharing of their earlier Award was relevant to their current entry.
Superlative deeds matter more than superlative words
One thing nearly any Judge will tell you is that Entrants sometimes go overboard with ‘superlative words’.
Our unparalleled, dynamic, dream Team of inspired, culturally motivated self starters with entrepreneurial mindsets.
By the way, that’s not that far off the mark.
When everything is wonderful, fabulous, motivated, value-driven and so on, none of it feels real. And overly puffed up language can actually take away from the great accomplishment being put forward.
You usually see the use of superlative words in written entries. But I’ve also experienced it in face to face presentations where it comes off as a bit pompous or at the very least, unnatural.
What should be superlative is what got accomplished – the deeds.
So focus on the deeds. And choose your descriptive words wisely.
Rehearse (rehearse, rehearse) your Face to Face presentation
Judges can always tell if you haven’t rehearsed your Face to Face presentation. We’re not expecting a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
But folks who have rehearsed know that they have to communicate their key points and narrative within X time frame.
I’m a huge fan of Awards like the Awards International events where the timeframe is clearly set. 20 minutes for presentation (uninterrupted) and 10 minutes for Judges Q&A.
Look at Ted Talks – there’s an art & science involved in sharing your compelling story in a 20 minutes. Elevator pitch, getting to the point, grabbing attention. Sometimes less is indeed more.
So presentations that have been rehearsed tend to stick to the stipulated timeframe and rarely run over time.
Unrehearsed presentations, on the other hand, tend to be cut off before the material is done – and during Q&A there are usually awkward attempts to share slides or material from the content that didn’t get covered in time.
Don’t wing a Face to Face presentation.
One of the best Face to Face presentations I witnessed was modelled as a talk show panel.
The Team presenting the entry had put together a fun and engaging narrative where the head of the initiative was a guest on a talk show and the host and other guests got to ask questions about their initiative.
It was fun and funny. But most importantly they got their message across and you could sense the camaraderies amongst the Entrants.
There’s not a single model of presentation that ‘wins’ over others.
So don’t be afraid to engage the Judges – as long as you have your talking points and narrative well thought out try something different!
Follow the directions
Now and then you get the Entrant who doesn’t follow the directions for the structure of their presentation and what needs to be conveyed.
You can be a world-class speaking guru, but if your presentation doesn’t allow the Judges to readily score you across the requested categories or competencies you’re unlikely to make it to the Winner’s Circle.
I think that you learn as much through the process of completing your Awards entry – and preparing your presentation – as you do by delivering it and even winning.
So take the process seriously – you’ll benefit in the long run.
And – some Entrants tell me they turn around and use their Awards entry presentations inside their own organizations as well. How smart is that!
I hope these few suggestions have been helpful and I look forward to judging your entry soon!