• Wed 17 Nov 2021
  • From 19.30 GMT

Doing yourself justice when entering the Learning Technologies Awards

Doing yourself justice when entering the Learning Technologies Awards

So you think you deserve a Learning Technologies Award? You quite possibly do, but standing between you and the recognition you so richly deserve is the small matter of two demanding stages of judging.

Here are some important pointers from Chris Robinson, the MD and founder of Boost Marketing (the world’s first and largest award entry consultancy), and a fan of the Learning Technologies Awards.

Now don’t get me wrong, the fact that there are two stages of judging is not a bad thing, in fact quite the reverse – only a small proportion of awards (less than a fifth) have a second stage, and this is part of what makes the Learning Technologies Awards so very credible.

The first of the stages is the 2,000 word written submission with a deadline of July 31st (registration deadline 30th June), and then finalists attend the second stage – a 25-minute face-to-face presentation followed by a Q&A with judges in early October.  

This article is going to focus on the written entry only, as this deadline is now fast approaching. This is your one and only chance to make the shortlist; there is no appeal stage or second chance. In this stage you cannot be complacent and really need to ensure you do yourself justice.

We’ve put our heads together here at Boost and distilled a huge list of suggestions and top tips into just three vital ingredients. These are based on our experience of writing award-winning entries for these awards for every year of their existence.

First, the good news

One of the reasons why we love the Learning Technologies Awards programme is because they give out bronze and silver as well as gold awards when warranted. So you are more likely to be “award winning” compared to many other awards schemes. Last year, as well as the 18 gold awards given out on the night, a further 35 silver and bronze awards were given out too. This meant a total of 53 awards were given to 150 finalists.

That might sound a lot. So does this mean they are easy to win? No, sadly not.

Now, the reality check

We hope you do enter these awards, but in doing so it is vital that we stress that you cannot take a win for granted. Each year for every award handed out on the night (including silver and bronze), five entries failed to receive anything. In fact, last year alone over half (around 58%) of the 350 or so entries didn’t get shortlisted at all.

Furthermore, the Learning Technologies Awards receives more submissions each year, and they are expecting a higher overall quality this year, too.

Here are some reasons why 2017 will be the most competitive year ever:

  1. The owners – Learning Technologies (in turn owner by CloserStill Media) – have tremendous marketing reach, and are using this to promote these awards more than ever before.
  2. Each year many of the unsuccessful entrants, and even some winners, raise their game in the hope of a gong. Most of the major e-learning vendors enter every year and hope for more awards each time.
  3. There’s always a gold award made in any given category, but not necessary a silver or bronze.

For all the reasons listed above, it’s safe to assume that winning a 2017 Learning Technologies Award is not going to be a walk in the park. 

The three vital ingredients

So what can you do to maximise your chances of winning?

People often think making the shortlist is a slam dunk, a doddle. They are wrong. It is not enough to simply be the best, because deserving a Learning Technologies Award and winning a Learning Technologies Award are two entirely different things.

Even getting to the shortlist nowadays means three things:

  1. Meeting the judging criteria with clear, well evidenced responses in each and every box.
  2. Having a “wow” factor, including a strong reason why “this year is the right year to enter”.
  3. Telling a story.

1) The evidence challenge

Being “well evidenced” is the tricky part here – you need to quantify ever single assertion you make with suitable data.

You don’t have to write your whole entry today, but do find an hour to map out what you will say where. The vital thing to do here is map out the data you need to back up your key points. I can almost guarantee that you will find a substantial list of data points that will require a fair amount of digging.

Remember, the awards only mandate learner feedback, and traditionally people also tend to include cost savings as a result of going digital, however nowadays this is far from enough. In reality you need evidence of impact back in the workplace. Increased productivity, reduced errors, improved customer experience. Not easy I know, but if it was easy then it wouldn’t be an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.

Another important fact here is time: evaluations are not quick, and only by acting this week will you have enough time to gather a strong body of evidence by the submission deadline.

2) The all-important WOW

So you have a clearly written and well evidenced entry with beautiful graphical insertions (within the entry and supporting PPT deck). Surely a win is now in the bag? Not in this day-and-age.

This is not a box ticking exercise. You can get a high mark in each section with a thorough well evidenced response, but to get the very high mark necessary to be shortlisted you need a “wow” response.

Sometimes stories are so strong that this “wow factor” is almost handed to you on a plate. You cannot leave it up to the judge to spot the “wow” from the mundane. We normally find that a story’s possible angle is so diluted by ordinary “good practice”, or weakened by a lack of evidence, that it simply fails to pack a punch.

Your job is to “find the wow” and focus your precious word count on emphasising this. For most projects and teams, especially within the larger organisations with an abundance of stories they could tell, this is far from glaringly obvious. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach here sadly, because by definition each “wow” has to be unique. However, if you simply accept that you need this as a vital ingredient, then it has made reading this article worthwhile. 

3) Tell a story

One final piece of advice to conclude with – tell a story: yes, of course meet the strict judging criteria and within the recommended structure, but ensure that in doing so you tell a story packed with drama and build to a crescendo. I know, doing all this in 2,000 words with the recommended structure not helping is hard, but the winning entry will do so, just make sure that this is you.

A summary of important facts

OK, that was the fun stuff. Now onto the boring, but extremely important rules.

Most importantly, don’t forget that to be in with a chance, you need to meet two deadlines:

  • Registration deadline, which is 30th June.
  • Written entry deadline, which is 31st July.

And here, to save you reading through all the information provided, here are the most important other entry facts and rules you need to know:

  • Each submission should be accompanied by a 100-word executive summary. The main entry is confidential, but beware, this will be published if you are shortlisted.
  • Submissions may be accompanied by any or all of the following if you feel they will add value:
    • A short video file (maximum 5 minutes in length).
    • URL links to additional material, such as a demo of the programme or product.
    • Slides or static screen displays (maximum of 12).
  • Submissions should be a maximum of 2,000 words, excluding the executive summary, but including:
    • Appendices.
    • Testimonials.
    • PowerPoint slides.
    • Any other written information. 
  • How you structure your submissions, and what you include, is very much up to you, most use the recommended structure of: Background, Outline solution, Challenges, Results.
  • Entry Fees are £160 + VAT per individual entry.

Please recycle

One final piece of advice here: if you do go to the trouble of creating a quality entry for these awards, do recycle the content for other awards schemes – it would be criminal not to. Click here* to see a full list of all the Training and HR awards you can enter in the UK – there are a lot of them!

Yet despite there being so many awards out there to choose from, thanks to the great brands that enter every year, and their robust judging process, the Learning Technologies Awards always gets a tick in the “credible” box, which explains why they are so popular each year. 

*Or visit www.boost-marketing.co.uk/awards and select “HR and Training” from the drop-down list.

To conclude

All that remains to say is good luck, but the fact that you have reached the bottom of this article means you clearly are taking your entry very seriously, and therefore need less luck than those who aren’t. So rather than “good luck”, I should say “see you in the finals!”

About the Author: Chris Robinson is founder and Managing Director of Boost Marketing, which has so far helped its clients win over 1,000 awards, including approximately 25 award winning entries in the Learning Technologies Awards. If you like this article then please say so at info@boost-marketing.co.uk or @boostawards

(C) These top tips are the intellectual property of award entry consultants Boost Marketing Ltd

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