Heike Moeller September 27, 2021 Proposal
If you are replying to an RFP (Request for Proposal) or applying for a specific grant, you need to follow any instructions specified in the RFP or grant application as precisely as possible. An RFP response typically requires combining government agency forms with topics you need to write from scratch - based on what the RFP asks you talk about.
As you lay out your plan, try to keep in mind a couple of questions that your audience may not ask but will certainly be thinking: "What can we expect as a minimum outcome of your work?" and "What steps will you follow, and how will we know you (and we) are on target?"
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.
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.
Summarize up front. Begin your proposal with an executive summary, preferably one that is no more than one page in length. Obviously, it is much easier to write the summary after the proposal is complete; doing so at the outset generally means extra work making revisions later on. In all likelihood your direction will change somewhat as you construct the document`s various parts.
Lead, do not read. Do not read to your listeners what they have before them on the printed page and are perfectly capable of reading themselves. Instead, rephrase, paraphrase, and elaborate as you describe the text in terms of concepts, procedures, and strategy. Before beginning your presentation, mark up a copy of your proposal with comments and amplifications of important points. Be cautious, however, about expanding on a topic in such a way that you commit yourself to actions outside the scope of your proposal.
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