Is what you say really as important as how you say it? Founder of Awards Agency, Melinda Leyshon, shows us exactly how to seduce the judges in your award submissions.
Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about hustling the judges to give you extra marks by using some sultry phrases in your business awards submission. No – we’re talking about using the right tone of voice to sway their emotions. Just slightly. And in your favour.
Yes, judges will often have a formal marking matrix against which points for every category or question are allocated. But despite the formalities, it’s been proven that emotions play a critical role in human decision-making. Maya Angelou said it best; “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
The same applies in business contexts, although it’s often overlooked. And this, my friends, is where you can get a leg up over your competitors. Emotion leads to connection. Connections lead to loyalty. And loyalty sticks.
So – how do we seduce when we’re supposed to be professional?
Talk dirty to me
In marketing contexts we talk about tone of voice as reflecting the brand personality of the business in words. And yes, harnessing your business’s tone of voice is critical award submissions. However it needs to be used alongside other techniques to really elicit an emotional connection and bring the reader (AKA your judging panel) to a shuddering climax.
So just how do we whisper those sweet nothings in their ear?
We start by employing your brand tone of voice. Writing is branding, and so the words you choose, and the rhythm and tone in which you write, communicate a message far beyond what the words themselves are conveying.
Think about brands such as Apple (innovative and creative), or Nike (hard-working, driven and dedicated). Apple says things like, ‘the thinnest ever’ or ‘the most advanced yet’, reaffirming their status in the market as creative leaders. The tone of voice in a submission for Apple would exude simplicity and luxury, reflective of its brand promise.
On the other hand, Nike uses words such as ‘tenacious’, ‘dedicated’ and ‘committed’. A Nike submission would employ the same language, an aspirational tone, and a rhythm that’s short and snappy to convey the movement and activity inherent in its brand.
We then start to build via sexy storytelling. Not all stories are sexy – far from it. In fact, some of the business failures I’ve written about are downright depressing. But amongst those stories there remains one constant – the hero, bringing us home the win.
When you tell the judges your story, when you contextualise your success within the battlefield you’re pitted in, they become transfixed. We all do. After all, it’s the age-old tale of a hero pitted against the enemy and, after an intense struggle, the hero emerges victorious. (Only in Nike’s story, they position the consumer as the hero, with the battle being our own internal foe – laziness. Just Do It.)
The centuries-old archetype of heroism tells the story. And because of this, we not only know what to expect but, just like we’ve been ‘trained’ to do, we root for the underdog. So when the hero emerges triumphantly, we have no choice but to admire and applaud.
This is exactly where we want the judges to be – immersed. To be on your side, cheering for you. And to high-five you when you succeed.
Finally, we lather it all up with evidence. Ahh, the facts. Sooooo sexy – NOT! Or are they?
Evidence is your friend – not your foe – when it comes to business awards. It needs to be carefully positioned so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of your narrative. This means interweaving it seamlessly throughout your submission – when you make a claim, substantiate it with the evidence and continue building. Mesh it into the story; don’t construct it around the story.
Writing a business award? Watch your language
It’s all about the brand. You hope that if your products or services could talk, they’d whisper, “choose me”. Your business award submission should do the same.
Tell your story – in your language, your tone and to your rhythm. Let the judges sink back and inhale. Let them connect.
And let them fall in love.
Melinda Leyshon is the CEO and Chief Awards Addict of Awards Agency, Australia’s leading specialists in business awards. When she’s not whispering sweet somethings in the ears of judges, she shares the secrets of writing via Awards Agency Academy. One thing she won’tshare though is her stash of chocolate-covered licorice – just try her.
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