How to write recognitions

Martina Eva Tonković
from Ulm, Germany

Recurring issue that bothers many judges (especially near the end of exemplar window) is how to write recognitions. While most of us know WHO to recognize and for WHAT, the issue is mostly connected to HOW to do it.

Recognitions being rejected is demotivating and turns people from writing them. It’s common to surprise other judges with such a public thank you for doing something right, something that they might not have noticed as something exemplary. Having the recognition rejected might mean that someone will never hear why the thing they did was so important.

I firmly believe that it’s possible to avoid rejections by following just a few simple rules. Those rules are not necessarily Magic related and can be applied to everything where a short summary is needed.

1) Knowing who is exemplary and why

While this might not be the easiest step, it’s by far the most intuitive one.  Most of us know who we want to say thank you and why that thing was something that left the impression.

2) Putting it into words

I always suggest writing sketches of texts before writing the real thing, as it helps formulate thoughts. Think about which points you want to concentrate on and put them in the few word lines. Examples:

  • being a support
  • handling very stressful situation well
  • actively looking for the way to improve the program/others’ experiences/tournament

3) Remember that it’s not the recognition!

Text written in step 2 is not a recognition! It is a skeleton that will be used to build a proper recognition. Don’t try to post it in this form..

4) Putting it into the proper form

This is the time to put some meat on those bones. Although there is no official recognition layout, if you take a look at the recognitions in general, the pattern is obvious.

4a) First, it’s not necessary but it is nice to start with saying hi and addressing the person by name. It makes it personal, and that is the goal – letting people know that they touched you on the personal level.

4b) After that, express gratitude or other feeling they caused. Examples include:

– “thank you for…”

– “I want you to know how much I appreciated…”

– “you impressed me by doing…”

– “I was pleasantly surprised…”

Don’t pick the “thank you” line from the ones listed on random, use the appropriate one, or write something to that effect that sounds nicely.

4c) This is the time to implement the points you wrote in step 2 – why are you recognizing them as exemplary? Remember that others are reading your recognitions as well – write it so it’s clear what happened.

For example, if you want to thank them for something that happened at GP Lyon, don’t write it as “Thanks for the Lyon thing”, although the recipient will probably know what you had in mind.

Try giving a summary of the event – “that time in Lyon when you…” with the description of the “Lyon thing” is what it should look like. That also means that in time, when both you and recipient forget about said GP, the important thing will be remembered. It might also be interesting to others who are looking for ways to better themselves by reading what is considered important.

4d) This is not a rule, but a suggestion. It’s always nice to tell people to keep up the good work, that you hope to work with them again or something like that. Let them know that it is pleasure working with them!

5) Review

After the recognition is written, run it through some spell check program or give it to your friends who are good with grammar to review. Although it’s not crucial and mistakes can happen, everything sounds better when written properly.

I hope that this mini-guide will help you write better reviews and eliminate the “how do I do this” question. If you have a different style, or different ideas that are more appropriate at the time, use those instead – personal touch is what counts. Just don’t forget to include details and spellcheck.

Martina Eva Tonković

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