Go virtual: How to run your live judging event remotely

by | Mar 5, 2020 | Articles

There are a number of reasons why some awards programs choose to host a live judging event for their awards program. It creates hype around the contest and program, it helps judges work together, and it creates buzz for your program’s results.

But running a live judging event can also have its challenges. For programs with a large geographical participant base, it can be difficult to bring judges together. It can be a costly endeavour when you factor in event costs, associated hotels and travel. And, unforeseen circumstances can sometimes make it challenging to attend (we’re looking at you, coronavirus). 

Already this year, hundreds of events across the globe have been canceled due to the coronavirus. Events such as Mobile World Congress, which expected to draw 100,000 people to Barcelona, and Baselworld, the largest annual trade show in the watch industry, originally scheduled for May in Switzerland, has been postponed until January 2021.

But your awards program doesn’t have to fall victim to viruses. Your live judging event or meeting can continue, virtually, and it’s easier than you think.

As a 100% distributed company, Award Force understands how to run things remotely. We know what it takes to run remote meetings, how to make assessments in hiring online without ever meeting a person face-to-face, and we’re experts on how to use our evaluation software to facilitate virtual judging events or meetings. 

If you’re considering running a virtual judging event, here’s our advice on how to do it, and how to use the Award Force judging platform to facilitate it. 

Consider your technology and process

  • Choose a video or chat conferencing tool
    There are many popular webcasting tools on the market, options like Zoom or Skype for Work. If you are not using video, there are also chat options like Slack or Google hangouts. Choose a tool that fits the needs of your program assessments.
  • Consider your assessment process
    Will you allow your judges to talk to one another? Or should each assessment be made anonymously? Will feedback and scores be public as soon as they are posted? Or should they be hidden until all assessments are finished? Consider how and if your judges need to communicate with one another or your program managers. Is a chat group best? Should you provide multiple “virtual rooms”? Do they need video conferencing to see and communicate in real-time like at an actual event? Or will a chat tool suffice?

Make a plan

  • Communicate with your judges
    Prepare a briefing document for your judges, and provide this at the start of your program, and, if possible, when the judge agrees to participate in your awards program.
  • Set a date and time for the judging event
    Let your judges know well in advance the date and time of the judging event, and remember to keep time zones in mind. Send reminders a month out, a week out, and the day before to make sure your judges are ready and present for the important event.
  • Prepare an event agenda
    A week before the judging event, provide an event agenda, letting your judges know what to expect, what technology they will need, how much time the event will require, and a phone number, hotline or email address to use if they have any problems during the event. If you have multiple stages of judging, it’s important to lay these out, and let judges know what to expect, and at what points they will be asked to participate.
  • Communicate technology requirements with your judges in advance
    Let them know what tool you will use, and ask them to test it ahead of time. Provide system requirements well in advance so they can address any problems.

Tips on using Award Force to facilitate live, virtual judging 

  • Use the slideshow feature to showcase entries
    Just like you would at your actual living judging event on a projector, showcase your program entries with Award Force’s slideshow feature on your shared screen. This way,  all judges can see the same entry at the same time and discuss, if appropriate.  TIP: It’s a good idea for the program manager or event moderator to use two screens to easily go back and forth between screenshares.
  • Share scores, when applicable
    You can enable the Share scores feature on the second round of judging so everyone can see all scores on each entry. But, if you need to keep scores private, the program manager or host can record comments in the manager’s view. And, you can use the gallery view in Award Force to show each entry without scores or comments.
  • Use tags for quick marking of winners or finalists
    Tag winners from the leaderboard or the Manage entries view in real-time as assessments are made. Be sure to have tags ready in advance, making it quick and efficient way to mark entries in real-time.
  • Set time limits, if needed
    If your judging is unmoderated, your judges can simply log on at a specified time, and assess each entry within a certain timeframe as set forth in their instructions.
  • Use Broadcasts to communicate quickly
    If you’re not using teleconferencing software, you can also communicate with your judges from within the Award Force platform with the Broadcast feature. You can notify judges about assigned entries, let them know when to start, or let them know when judging is over. 

Take a dry run, or two

Once you’ve set up your web conferencing, be sure to give it a practice run. Invite program managers or other colleagues to join the call, and go through your event agenda. In Award Force it’s easy to make test comments and feedback, and then go back and delete those before the actual judging event. 

Make sure your computer and network can handle the bandwidth, and test it well before the event to work out any kinks.

Running remotely

In an increasingly globalised world, it’s easier than ever to host a virtual event. And Award Force provides you with the tools your judges need to make good decisions. 



Related: Learn how to attract judges to your program.
Download our free guide: How to attract and retain judges to your recognition program


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