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First Time Judge, Hints & Tips

Judging for the first time is daunting, here are my hints and tips based on my personal experience. I hope they help…


1. Give yourself plenty of time

Give yourself time to read through the information provided by Awards International before you start reading through the entries [each entry will take about 45 mins to score]. The instructions, the scoring guidelines & the great examples provided will give you everything you need to set you up for success & will save you time in the long run.


2. Don’t doubt yourself

If you find yourself reading & rereading a section, it generally isn’t because of your lack of knowledge/experience. If the entry doesn’t quite make sense, lacks detail/evidence or seems a little too good to be true, trust your judgement & score them in line with the marking scale. Jot down your queries so that you can pose those questions to the finalists in their presentation.


3. Prepare some questions

Prepare about 2-3 questions for each finalist after you have read their entry. The head judge will probably ask each of the Judges (normally 3 to 5) in turn to pose a question after each presentation has ended. You may find that another judge has asked your question or that the finalist has answered your question during their presentation. Having some prepared questions helps to take a little bit of pressure off you.


4. High marks or low marks?

When scoring the entries online be prepared for it to be an iterative process. The first entry you pick up & score may sound great, but then the next maybe even better. My advice is not to give the first entry high scores, as it is difficult to give an even better entry a higher score. Once you have scored all the entries, you may want to go back & rescore to make sure you have given everyone the right scores. If all the entries are excellent, don’t be worried about scoring everyone high.

When scoring during the presentation, please do not worry about whether you (or your fellow judges) are a high or low marker – the scoring will equal itself out if you are fair & consistent. Just rate the entry based on your knowledge & your experience.


5. On the presentation day, just be yourself

Giving a presentation is never easy. As judges, we don’t need to sit there being stoic, just be real & authentic & help put the finalists at ease so they can perform at their best. During the presentation some finalists bring in their entire team, music & film & some just bring themselves and their passion. Just be yourself & enjoy the experience!

By Valerie Howe

Valerie Howe is the global director of customer experience, insight and marketing intelligence at Elekta (a leading innovator of equipment and software used to improve, prolong and save the lives of people with cancer and brain disorders). Valerie has over 10 years’ experience in driving customer experience change in a variety of technology businesses. In her current role, she is responsible for blending organisational, market and customer data to drive change and achieve business results.

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