7 Tips on Winning Awards – #5January 19th, 2012
Keep it simple.
What do I mean? Well, put yourself in the shoes of an award judge for a moment. You will be reviewing 10, maybe 20 submissions. When was the last time you read that much? Written by mostly non-professional writers?
That’s why it’s critical to keep it simple. By that I mean:
Remember that your judge/s know/s nothing about your program/product/team/etc. so you have to make everything very, very clear.
Ask yourself whether you can picture a judge nodding her head as she reads along. If YOU don’t nod your head as you are reading along your draft, and rework it until you do.
- Use plain English. I don’t mean dumb things down, I mean say things as plainly as possible. Don’t over-complicate. Choose the five-cent word over the 10-cent word.
Remember, the writing here is just a means to an end: winning. Flowery language and/or long, compound sentences will not help your cause, nor will excessive buzzwords (and please, etch this in your memory: “incentivize” is not a word).
- Use English, and selective jargon. Avoid what I like to call the quirky lingua franca spoken on your corporate planet. No one knows what any of your acronyms mean, for example.
DO use jargon appropriate to the context, i.e. if you are applying for a learning award, as many of my clients do, you should surely use learning terminology.
- Just the facts, ma’am. There is a lot to say about any potentially award-winning project/product/team/etc. Pare it down to the essentials. Know the difference between details that will help you win and details that are extraneous, and delete the latter.
It might be helpful to show your draft to someone in another department, or to a colleague in the same field but at another company (assuming they are not applying for the same award!).
The person should know just enough about the subject matter to be able to follow along but not so much about the specifics that they cannot see the forest for the trees (like you and your team).
A Few Words from the Wise
In closing, some inspiration from two greats who knew how to make an impact:
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Leonardo da Vinci
“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” – Coco Chanel
Stay tuned for tip #6: Be concise.
Tip #4: Tell a Good Story
Tip #3: Start Early
Tip #2: Read the Question
Tip #1: Know Who You’re Talking To