Sarah Neudorf October 15, 2021 Proposal
Watch your language. Nothing kills proposals faster than poor or careless writing. No matter how impressive your technical knowledge, familiarity with the field, or track record, a sloppily prepared proposal can doom your chances for success. Thoughtless and incomplete preparation or an untidy printed proposal reflects negatively on your ability to do the job, suggesting that you may be equally neglectful in your work.
Be aware that there may be a hidden audience whom you never see or even know about who reads your proposal after you have made your presentation; the CFO or comptroller who ultimately approves all invoices might be an example. Will that person(s) understand every point it contains without hearing you explain, "What that really means is this..."? Also remember that portions of the text may be read aloud. If a member of your audience asks, "What is our duty here where it says...," he or she should be able to read the passage smoothly without stumbling over a series of stilted phrases or hard-to-pronounce words or sounds.
Because the plan portion represents the meat of your proposal, it should summarize your strategy clearly and include time lines, opportunities for feedback, and provisions both for periodic evaluations and measurement of the end result. Two-way communications are extremely important to the success of most projects and, for that reason, should be built into each procedure and objective. Routine reports and approvals, explicitly provided for within your proposal, will help keep communications open and allay possible concerns during the course of the project. If your project must conform to regulatory standards, tell exactly how tests and verifications will occur. And if time or other constraints are prescribed by outside parties, describe the process you will use to satisfy those requirements.
Break up gray pages of solid type with bullets and lists that draw the reader`s eye to important points. Keep margins fairly wide (1½" is sufficient) to enable your audience to make notes. Number the pages so that you can easily direct your listeners to particular information.
A word about organizing. Before actually starting to write any part of your proposal, think about what you want to put into it-and what you prefer to leave out. A logical, sequential construction becomes an outline that enables you to move through your oral presentation smoothly and thoroughly, developing both your narrative and your qualifications for the job as you go.
It is to your distinct advantage to follow all the instructions that are available, especially if you must submit your proposal by mail and will not have the opportunity to make a personal presentation. Standard form RFPs enable reviewers to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. If a reader must hunt through your document in order to find a critical point, he or she may instead prefer to toss the document aside. After all, the reviewer may think, if this person ca not even follow our directions, how can we expect a satisfactory outcome from the project?
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