Sophie Moench August 17, 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.
Cover letter. Because it tells your understanding of the project and states that you are the right person, department, or company to do the job, the cover letter is the most important element of the proposal; it is also the very last item to prepare before you make your presentation. Keep it short, no more than one page. State the problem in a sentence or two and tell what you intend to do about it. Do not forget to express your appreciation for the opportunity to submit your proposal.
After you have written one proposal, you will find that the next one is easier and faster to write, and that you can re-use a lot of the same information in multiple proposals. But is important to customize each one to the specific recipient; that`s the difference between proposal writing and mass marketing.
Keep it simple. Use good quality paper stock-something with a high rag content has the best feel-and avoid colored papers. Rather than highlight, they tend to distract. Stick to eight point five x eleven size and fold flow charts, schematics, organizational charts, graphs, and other illustrations within the proposal itself. Larger sheets are difficult to file and quickly become dog-eared, a tattered appearance that will make your entire proposal look bad. If you are using large plans and drawings, list them as coded illustrations within the text of your proposal and submit them as separate exhibits.
Do not bind your letter into the proposal itself. It`s all right to clip it to the cover or insert it into an inside pocket of a folder, but it should be loose so that as you begin your presentation, the recipient can hold it in his or her hand. Print the letter on letterhead, preferably a heavy sheet that has a good feel. Address it to your primary contact, the person with whom you will work and to whom you will report. Always sign the letter. You may use your first or full name; it depends upon how personally close you are to the addressee. Do not be presumptuous in making that decision, however; it is safer to err on the side of formality than to presume a familiarity that is not really there.
Some proposal writers know their field forward, backward, and sideways but are unable to express themselves well in print. If that is your situation, ask for help in writing your proposal. It is always better to collaborate with a competent writer than to risk losing the assignment.
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