Sarah Neudorf October 15, 2021 Proposal
Where do I start? After initial pleasantries are out of the way, start your presentation with your cover letter. I is your personal introduction to your audience, evidence that you understand the need for the project you are describing, and your statement that you are the right person or company to do the job. Call attention to the letter, physically take it from the proposal-remember, it should not be bound into the proposal itself-and hold it in both hands in front of you. That`s the cue for everyone else in the room to do likewise. They will do it if you do it.
Unless every proposal that goes out of your office is carefully read before it leaves, there is the danger that gremlins will find their way into your document. Boilerplate that contains spaces for different insertions to be filled in as each new proposal is written is particularly accident prone. Failure to change just one ABC Widget Company before submitting a proposal to the XYZ Widget Company can destroy your entire presentation. Not only is it an embarrassing mark of carelessness, but it also may reveal far more about your business than you care to have known.
When responding to an RFP, read the guidelines carefully and highlight each qualifying instruction. Make a list of the requirements and check off each one as you complete it. Do not include more information than is requested unless it is absolutely vital to your submission and you have included a full explanation in your cover letter. Likewise, if you are unable to complete all sections of the RFP, include a full explanation of why certain parts are missing. Submit your proposal in its complete and finished form; piecemeal submissions create bad impressions.
Your proposal is a business document. Do not stick it into a drugstore folder that makes it look like a term paper. Stapling a half dozen or fewer pages together is all right; if the whole document runs longer than that, place it in an appropriately sized three-ring notebook or add stiff front and back covers and bind it. Three-ring, spiral, and plastic comb bindings are inexpensive and allow the book to lie flat when opened.
If you choose to use a flip chart, PowerPoint, overhead or slide projector, VCR, computer screen, or some other demonstration aid, practice ahead of time so that your presentation proceeds smoothly. And, of course, check your equipment before the meeting to see that it is functioning properly. In the event you run into trouble with your display tools, do not take more than a minute or so trying to make corrections or you will lose your audience. Instead, be prepared to proceed without audio/visual assistance.
The importance of packaging. Contrary to what we might like to believe, people do buy books by their covers. Neatness and eye appeal count. A proposal that is hard to handle or is not professional in appearance detracts from the presenter, his or her firm or department, and the overall plan. A few extra hours spent on making the written proposal look good can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.
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