A judge’s guide to writing an effective awards submission.

Learning awards season is almost upon us! And as someone who’s been on both sides of the judging table many times, I fully understand that writing a compelling award submission can seem daunting. But, with a touch of planning, creativity, and a few tips from me – that I’ll share here – your submission can shine brightly in the sea of entries.

Let’s dive in!

Be your own judge.

Think about your submission from the perspective of a judge. They’ll probably have lots of entries to go through, so whatever you can do to make it easier for them – in terms of structure – will do both you and them many favours. Every award has its set of criteria. It’s vital to thoroughly understand what the judges are looking for before you even start writing. Are they interested in innovation, impact, effectiveness, or all of these? Tailor your submission to fit the stated criteria and even name-check the criteria in the titles of the separate parts of your submission to make it super-clear which part you’re covering.

Highlight the problem and solution.

Your submission should clearly state the problem you addressed and how you provided a solution. Be specific and articulate about the challenges and the uniqueness of your solution.

Showcase measurable impact.

Numbers speak louder than words. If your solution has been implemented, provide quantitative data that showcases its effectiveness. Increased user engagement, improvement in learning outcomes, or cost-effectiveness, are excellent points to highlight. But importantly, the data needs to relate to the problem you mentioned at the start. Many submissions I look at that don’t get shortlisted are down to there being lots of evidence around great reactions to the solution but no or little impact data to show how it made a difference to the original problem. This is possibly because there’s been an eagerness to get the solution into an award submission before it’s had enough time to bed in. So, look at your data and ask yourself if it may be worth waiting until next year to submit it with a stronger story to tell.

Tell a story.

Talking of stories to tell… Remember, behind every submission, there’s a panel of human judges. Engage them with a narrative that brings your project to life. Share your journey, challenges, and how you overcame them. This helps create an emotional connection and makes your submission more memorable.

Demonstrate innovation.

Make sure to highlight the innovative aspects of your project, be it in design, application, or results. What sets your solution apart from others?

Keep it simple.

While you’re immersed in your project, the judges aren’t. Avoid jargon and keep your language simple, clear, and concise.

Get Feedback.

Before submitting, have someone else review your work. A fresh pair of eyes can catch inconsistencies, unclear statements, or areas that need more detail.


Last, but certainly not least, proofread your submission multiple times. A well-polished submission, free from grammatical errors and typos, shows attention to detail and professionalism.

So those are my top tips to writing an effective awards submission.
Remember, the goal is not just to win but also to learn, network, and showcase your innovation. Even if you don’t win, the process of preparing the submission can be a great learning experience.

Best of luck with your submissions! I hope to see you in an awards presentation in the future.

Martyn Stevenson-Read FLPI Assoc. CIPD.Learning Experience Partner at Bakkavor.