Launch your next program in under an hour with our preconfigured customizable templates
Oct 10, 2023

Evalato's guide on how to recruit and retain judges for your awards program

Icon List
In this article

Some say that an awards program is only as good as its jury. And while there’s a lot else that goes into organizing successful awards, this statement is not without truth — your jury guarantees the objectivity of results and as such, boosts your program’s credibility and reputation. That’s why getting the right experts on board and keeping them there for the next editions of your program is an absolute must. The following guide will help you achieve just that. 

How to recruit the right experts 

So, how do you go about finding a reputable jury, especially if this is the first edition of your program? Check out these essential tips that will help you regardless of whether you need to build  up your jury from scratch or want to enhance an already existing judging panel with more experts: 

  • Start with prominent industry experts — depending on your sector and the nature of your awards, consider major industry figures (including retired), heads of associations in your industry, as well as influencers who will help you leverage the power of social media when promoting your awards; 
  • Ask for recommendations — reach out to your partners and the broader community, asking them to nominate jury members with relevant expertise, including from their own organization; 
  • Reach out to more potential judges than you objectively need — you should be prepared that some of your preferred experts will turn you down, while others might accept and back out at the last minute or even after the evaluation has started. Either way, having a larger jury will ensure that you still have enough judges on board; 
  • Communicate the benefits of being part of your jury clearly — to get the industry’s best and brightest, you need to motivate them to become part of your program. To do that, make sure they know about all the exposure, networking opportunities, and bragging rights they will get in return;  
  • Set up a jury-friendly evaluation process — you can implement an awards judging solution to make evaluation a breeze and advertise that to the judges you’re trying to recruit so that they know that evaluating entries won’t take more time than absolutely necessary. 

Pro tip: Set up a jury nomination webpage where people can suggest prominent industry names and enhance it with the benefits of being a judge in your awards program.   

How to keep your judges happy  

Getting your judges on board is just the beginning of the road — you also need to keep them there to ensure continued trust in your program, even if you add more experts to your jury going forward. So, how do you make sure your judges come back and spread the word about the great experience they have being part of your jury? Read on. 

  • Have a user-friendly evaluation process in place — we cannot stress this enough, even the most well-intentioned experts can get frustrated if they have to go through a multitude of spreadsheets, get drowned in emails with application files, or, perish the thought, sift through physical files. To sidestep this trap, deliver on your promise of a judge-friendly evaluation process, ideally, with the help of an awards management system; 
  • Give them exposure — include regular information about your jury members in your marketing channels such as social media and newsletters. Depending on your resources, you can dedicate a blog post or a video to each jury member, and include a link to a website of their choice, such as their organization, a worthy cause they are supporting, etc.; 
  • Have the right instructions and criteria in place — in relation to the above, you need to make the evaluation instructions and criteria easily accessible to the judges so that they can refer to them whenever needed;  
  • Keep your judges in the loop about deadlines — make sure all your jury members are duly updated about evaluation deadlines. Since they are likely busy with other projects, it falls on you to inform them about anything they need to keep track of; 
  • Make sure they are not overwhelmed with work — for one, excessive workload means that your jury will not be able to give each entry the attention it deserves, not to mention that too many entries will increase your judges’ frustration, especially if your evaluation process is complicated. In any case, the actual workload needs to match what you have told your prospective judges beforehand;  
  • Provide networking opportunities — one of the main benefits of being a judge in an awards competition is networking, be it with other judges or applicants. This means that you should take the time to organize and moderate networking sessions, events, or seminars for your judges to take part in; 
  • Include your judges in your winner announcement — if you have an awards ceremony, make your judges part of it, such as having them announce winners or present trophies. Getting them involved more closely in your awards management process will both show them that you value their contribution and make them more invested in your program;
  • Consider a post-awards survey — after the conclusion of your program, you can send your judges a survey to get their feedback. You can also ask them for recommendations that you could possibly implement (provided they are relevant and feasible), further demonstrating to your jury that their opinion matters. 

In a word, to retain your expert jury, you need to deliver a stellar evaluation and post-evaluation experience

Evalato Screenshot Judging

How Evalato helps you out 

The easiest route to achieving the above goals is implementing a robust and judge-friendly awards management solution. Let’s see how Evalato fits the bill:

  • User-friendly judging portal — accessible from any device, Evalato’s judging portal enables judges to easily vote, abstain, and leave comments on the entries they have been assigned, with zero hassle; 
  • Easily invite judges — Evalato enables you to invite judges and set their profile in just a few clicks, while they get their secure login details in the email they have provided.  
  • Instructions you can upload — your jury also has access to anything you decide to share with them, including voting instructions, criteria descriptions, as well as relevant T&C and NDAs which will help preserve both their reputation and that of your program;
  • Advanced judges assignment and unlimited judges — the combination of these neat Evalato features means that you add as many judges as you want, and assign them only specific rounds and categories, which will help you ensure that your judges don’t get overwhelmed having to evaluate too many entries;  
  • Email automation — in addition to applicants, Evalato also automates your email communication with judges, making sure they have their login details and that they never miss an evaluation deadline;  
  • Oversee the judges' progress in real time — you stay on top of the judging process, monitoring your jury’s voting progress and results in real-time;
  • You can enable feedback — depending on your program’s format and goals, you can let the judges give feedback on the entries they evaluate;
  • You can make jury grades and feedback public — again, based on the concept of your program, you can opt to publish judges’ feedback on a special webpage alongside the entries, which will give your jury more exposure. 

Given all of these, it’s no wonder that customers love Evalato, with judge satisfaction being one of the reasons. 

“Evalato judging software is easy to use, intuitive — there are no problems with obtaining information about events (date, videos), adjusting scores, and adding your own comments.” Dr. Beata Kozyra, President of the board of the Polish Chamber of Exhibition Industry, and an Eventex Awards jury member. 


Evalato is an excellent awards management software choice for all parties, awards managers, applicants, and as seen above — judges. The best part? You can test Evalato for free and see for yourself how user-friendly it really is for everyone involved. 

Get started in a snap

Launch your next awards program in under an hour with Evalato’s pre-made templates and intuitive design. 
Unlimited free testing. No credit card required.