Tips for Writing a Winning Award Submission
In my previous post, I discussed the considerations and benefits that come with applying for innovation and technology transfer awards. Here, I’ll discuss key writing tips to employ when you craft an award submission that will set you apart from other nominees.
With much experience successfully writing awards for Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other federal labs, the Fuentek team has developed an efficient and effective process. A central piece of our strategy is using strong writing techniques to showcase the nominee.
Last year, I was part of a Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) webinar where I shared tips on how to put together a winning award submission. (The FLC awards annually recognize the federal labs and professionals that represent the best in technology transfer for the benefit of society and national security.)
To put together a winning submission, it’s important to write the nomination in a compelling way that not only addresses all the evaluation criteria but clearly and effectively showcases the exceptional work of the organization/nominee(s). Following these four writing tips will allow you to hold the attention of the judges.
The title sets the stage and grabs the attention of the judges. Rather than simply presenting facts, focus on the excellence and/or impact. Consider the example I shared in the webinar:
- Before (fact-based): ORNL’s Exclusive Licensing of Method for Manufacturing of Refractory Heat Exchangers and Other Fluidics Component to Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation
- After (outcome-focused): 3D-Printed SiC Technology Brings Zero-Carbon Energy Production to U.S.
Use of Subheads
Using subheads is a great way to guide the judges through the story you’re telling and show them that you’re hitting all the criteria. Second-level subheads hammer home the key messages such that they jump right off the page. Subheads also help break up long sections and make the text easier to read—a good idea considering yours isn’t the only nomination the judges have to review.
Effective Use of Bullets
Bullets are another excellent way to enhance the readability of your submission. While a paragraph may be well written, using bullets can help clarify the story. They can focus attention on the key benefits of the technology, important actions nominees took to contribute to success, and valuable outcomes that are worthy of award recognition. Also, the judicious use of bolding can help tell the story in a clear and compelling way without affecting the word count (since most awards limit the number of words in the submission narrative).
Tone and Language
Finally, it’s important to emphasize excellence within the tone and language you use in the award nomination. Highlight the experience and expertise of the people involved. Use specific action words to speak to all that went into excellence in technology transfer: streamlining, working efficiently, making changes, mitigating risks, etc. Taking this kind of approach in your writing and using this tone is key to preparing a successful award submission.
And Don’t Forget About Process
What I’ve learned from my years of experience is that success in applying for awards not only requires strong writers but also a solid process. Ahead of applying, read through the forms and see what the questions are, what is required, and how points are distributed so you know where your efforts should be concentrated. Complete drafts as early as you can to build in adequate time for internal reviews.