How do I write a successful honours nomination?

The recipe for a successful nomination depends upon a number of ingredients, the most important of which is that a nominee should have a strong background of success and a record of outstanding achievement, preferably that also impacts positively on the UK.

At Awards Intelligence we spend much of our time giving people an honest assessment of a nominee’s chances of success. You may be surprised to know that we politely dissuade many people from making a nomination. Why? Well there are two key reasons why we don’t just ‘sell the dream’ to everyone. Firstly you can’t build a sound business by misleading people; it’s simply not clever, ethical or sustainable. Secondly, we want to maintain and build on our 2 in 3 success rate as we are very proud of being the best in the world at what we do.

If a nominee does have a strong case, we help their nominator to focus the nomination in the most relevant and favourable way possible. We ensure they understand the impact of their nominee’s achievements and help them to decide which of the nine honours sub-committees the nomination should be aimed at informing.

Together we craft the key messages accordingly and build the most compelling case for the nominee. It’s important to prioritise a nominee’s achievements and consider the impact, relevance and importance of everything detailed in the nomination. You need to capture the interest of the honours committees and ‘sell’ the nominee’s achievements.

You must also do your research. Back up those key messages with hard facts, accurate statistics and evidence of your nominee’s work and achievements – both quantitatively and qualitatively. An ability to write well is, of course, another key to success, and there is no ‘right length’ for a nomination. Each nomination is unique. But you need to tell a story, not just list the facts, providing clear evidence and compelling examples along the way.

The level of honour is broadly related to the geographical spread of the nominee’s influence. So it’s important to use the right words and positioning to ensure the nominee not only gets an honour, but gets the highest possible level of honour that they deserve, and which accurately reflects their impact and achievements.

Before making a nomination, you must ask yourself the following questions:

Has the nominee:

• Made a difference to their community or field of work?

• Exemplified the best sustained and selfless voluntary service?

• Demonstrated innovation and entrepreneurship?

• Carried the respect of their peers?

• Encouraged change, with an emphasis on achievement?

• Improved the prospects of those less able to help themselves?

• Brought distinction to British life and enhanced its reputation?

But how do I find the right words?

You can of course use superlatives, but you must back them up with evidence.

According to the Cabinet Office, effective nominations often include the following:

Nouns such as:

Determination, commitment, respect, drive, sustainability, recognition, innovation, creativity, selflessness, impact, zeal, performance, ambassador

Adjectives such as:

Trusted, unstinting, conscientious, wise, inspirational, peerless, persuasive, passionate, exemplary, resourceful, enthusiastic, fair, tenacious, sympathetic, admired, unflustered, supportive, vibrant, dogged, articulate, diligent, dedicated

Phrases such as:

Making a difference, role model, going the extra mile, overcoming obstacles, head and shoulders above the rest.