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How award judges select a winner

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
13 November 2018 2 minute readShare
award, medal, trophy, winner

Curious to know what judges look for when they are wading through award submissions? Take a look at what this year’s judges had to say about the 2018 Optus My Business Award winners.

It sounds overly simple, but the first thing judges look for when assessing business awards is the basics. And surprisingly, overlooking these award basics is a trap that befalls many submissions. This includes answering the question, addressing all of the selection criteria and ensuring your business is eligible for that particular award before hitting send.

Then it doesn’t hurt to go and speak with people who have previously judged an industry award – any award – and discuss with them what made some entries stand out over others and what you can do to replicate that success.

For the judges of the 2018 Optus My Business Awards, the winners tended to have the following points in common:

  • They were concise but also specific in the information they provided.
  • They included examples and supporting evidence to substantiate their claims.
  • Several made videos to bring their business to life, convey their passion and display information that was easy for judges to see and understand.
  • They demonstrated the problems they are solving for their customers/clients.
  • Judges loved it when staff contributed to a submission, while customer testimonials are also good to include.
  • They told the backstory behind the business, not just the facts and figures.
  • They demonstrated their point of difference in the market.

Conversely, there are also a few things you should always avoid:

  • Not directly answering the question
  • Making generalist statements
  • Missing the submission deadline
  • Assuming the judges would already know about you and your business
  • Resting on past successes, or on the hype about your wider industry
  • Leaving the judges with more questions than answers

Finally, always be sure to re-read your submission before sending. It is so easy to get caught up in what you have written to miss the bleedingly obvious mistakes, omissions or opportunities to make it even better.

Perhaps even get your spouse, friend or senior employee to give it a read – someone who you know and trust that is aware of your accomplishments and can point out anything you’ve missed or anything requiring further explanation or validation.

Here are a few of the comments from this year’s judges on some of the winning submissions:

“Outstanding entry supported by high-quality supporting material. Great to see staff feedback, which I’ve never come across in all my judging, but a brilliant inclusion.”

“Love the video! Excellent submission. Clear, concise and great supporting materials.”

“This is one of the best entries I have reviewed with an amazing business, story and comeback after huge setbacks. The testimonials are the best presented by any entrant, and all the awards are further evidence of this. The business itself is inspiring and fills a huge gap, which makes a remarkable difference to so many.”

“Brilliant! Absolutely nailed each question to the point with demonstrated examples and thought out answers. Hands down the best of the submissions and a benchmark of what entails a winning submission.”

How award judges select a winner
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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