Heike Moeller October 17, 2021 Proposal
Show and tell. Resist, even to the point of seeming obstreperous, all requests to "just mail it to us." Anything short of a face-to-face meeting will inevitably detract from your proposal. After all, your proposal is meant to sell more than your services; it also sells you.
Stay away from artsy typefaces and fonts and complicated page layouts. More often than not they only confuse the reader. Many proposal writers nowadays use formatting or desktop publishing programs for page design. Unless you are familiar with page makeup techniques, though, it is best to leave that kind of design to the professionals. And exercise some restraint in using charts and graphs to illustrate every individual item you describe. Sometimes a clearly written explanation works better than a graphic that you had to strain to create.
Depending on what you are proposing, the readers you want to target might be members of a grant committee, potential students, parents of students, teachers, school administrators, a loan committee, or a governmental organization. It is important to consider them carefully, and tailor your information to them. What do they want to know? What concerns might they have? Are there scheduling or budget restrictions? At the very least, this client-oriented section should have a Requirements page that summarizes what they have asked for, or what you believe they need. You may also want pages like Schedule, Deadlines, Limitations, Budget, Goals, Considerations, Special Needs, and so forth, to describe in detail your understanding of what the client needs. This is not yet the time to brag about your proposed program or your organization. Keep this section focused on information about what the client wants or needs.
The summary is not a substitute for the proposal itself. Rather, it is a quick and concise reference to what the proposal contains. Sometimes called an abstract, outline, or précis, the summary is a condensed statement of what the full proposal contains. During a personal presentation, it is useful both as an introduction and a wrap-up. Later on if it becomes necessary to return to the proposal for clarification of certain points, the summary serves as a convenient memory jogger. For these reasons you might consider using bulleted points when formatting your summary.
Similarly, if you encounter strong objections to the total cost, ask which parts of the proposal your audience thinks may be beyond its budget. Be prepared for some on-the-spot negotiations that will enable you to eliminate or make substitutions for items that are not deemed essential by your client or supervisor. Going into a proposal presentation without knowledge of alternatives is extremely disadvantageous for you and makes you appear unprepared.
Because we live in an imperfect world, there will indeed be times when you won`t reach every decision maker simultaneously. You may have to re-present your proposal to those persons who were unable to be present the first time around, or you may have to rely upon secondhand presentations from those to whom you spoke originally.
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