Conference speakers, awards nominations, scholarships and grants…whatever you’re collecting submissions for, you never really know what kind of submissions you’ll get once you open up your call for them. Some will be good — great, even! — and some, well, just won’t quite align with what you’re looking for.
And that’s ok! But to make it easier on the people reviewing your submissions, we’ve thought of three questions whose answers will help them quickly identify the submissions that should be put into the “thanks, but no thanks” category:
Question #1: Why are you applying for this opportunity?
If you’re familiar with Simon Sinek and his thoughts around “starting with why” then you KNOW you’re looking for an answer beyond “financial need,” “because we like to be recognized with awards,” “to get my presentation in front of your audience,” etc.
Their answer should immediately show you how their goals align with the program, as well as how passionate they are about the chance to partner with you in some way. If their answer doesn’t exude a reason beyond what’s in it for them at face-value for the submission, perhaps they’re just going through the motions.
Question #2: What do you expect to gain from this opportunity?
Often, these calls are a two-way street. For example in the case of conference speakers, yes you are giving them a platform to showcase their expertise…but the quality of your audience and your own execution of the event need to benefit them, too!
Asking specifically about what they think they will gain by working with you will tell you right off the bat if they’re in it to win it — and, on the flip side, if you’re equipped to fulfill their expectations.
Question #3: If you were reviewing your own submission, why would you choose it?
With any submission, you want to know if the submitter did their research. Now, there are other ways to identify if they did depending on the quality of their submission, but being this bold forces them to think from your reviewers’ perspective and REALLY showcase that they have a good understanding of what you’re looking for.
Try including one, two, or all of the above and see where it gets you! Do you have any other questions that you include in calls for submissions that help you quickly identify if it’s one you’d like to explore further? We (and our readers) would love to hear them in the comments!
And if you’re looking for more tips that’ll help strengthen your submissions-seeking programs, check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management:
This article was originally published on 9/17/19; updated on 12/15/20 with added value.