Lindy’s Top Five Submission Writing Tips for Architects & Designers

Lindy Johnson

Here are some tips about how to write a compelling submission that makes it easy for your potential client to choose you for the job.

1. Address the client’s brief

–  Demonstrate your understanding of their needs by addressing the aims of the brief in all parts of the submission.

–  Sell the client’s vision back to them through compelling language (it’s OK to use more descriptive language when you’re writing about your concepts), and then back it up with evidence of your expertise/past experience (be more technical and specific).

– Architecture competition advisers tell us that not addressing the brief is the number one mistake competition entrants make.


2. Make it easy to read

–  Use a logical structure. There should be a clear hierarchy of information.

–  Make text ‘skimmable’ with clear headings and dot points. Make the main points obvious in your headings, and chunk information in dot points or paragraphs.

–  Keep sentences short. Long sentences bury the important information. If you need extra information use dot points or a series of shorter sentences.

–  Consider word choice — the aim is clear communication, save academic language for industry journals where the audience will appreciate it.

–  When a client requests a certain format, follow the format as closely as possible; and make sure your language reflects the language of the brief.


3. Make it compelling

–  Use active language and present tense where possible.

For example, instead of a passive sentence such as — “With the use of materials such as wood and stone, a sense of connection with nature is provided.” Use active language — “Natural materials, such as wood and stone, create a sense of connection with nature.”

–  Tell a story, your vision for the project up front while being mindful of addressing the client’s brief. This includes the benefits of your solution for both the client and/or their stakeholders.

–  Give concrete examples of social, environmental and economic benefits of relevant projects from your portfolio e.g. “Solution A resulted in a 40% reduction in running costs”, or “Visitation has increased from 5 000 to 40 000 visitors per month since the new facilities opened”.


 4. Use great visual presentation

–  Great quality images throughout your submission are very important. Also, the layout has a big impact on how easily the content is to read. It is often worth getting a flexible template professionally designed for this purpose.


5. Position your Practice as experts

–  Highlight your role as experts in the field (e.g. when you refer to research you’ve undertaken, make it clear in the text that it is your research).

–  Make sure you include enough examples of what you’ve done and how it relates directly to the client’s brief. These are the specifics that back up the theory of your vision. Don’t assume the client knows all about your work (even major projects).

–  Integrate testimonials if appropriate to the submission requirements. Third party endorsement is very powerful.

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