Sarah Neudorf March 29, 2021 Proposal
Obstructions and distractions. It`s not unusual for differing opinions and disagreements-sometimes even confrontations-to surface during proposal presentations. Known or unknown to you may be someone in your audience who previously presented or sponsored a similar proposal that was rejected. There may be congenital naysayers who distrust innovation or change of any kind. There may be one or two persons who adopt a show-me! attitude and refuse to believe that an idea worth listening to could ever come from (pick one) an insider, outsider, field representative, corporate staff person, woman, man, engineer, marketing specialist, or...fill in the blank.
As you move through your presentation, speak conversationally to those around you. Remember that you are not lecturing to a university class or speaking to a Rotary Club. Your presentation is a business process-even though you may be demonstrating your technical know-how-and you are endeavoring to win a contract or an assignment. It won`t be possible for you to perform as an expert-the person or company right for this job-unless you receive the go-ahead from your audience. Much more depends at this point upon your ability to express how you intend to apply your expertise than what that expertise actually is.
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.
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.
Unplating the boiler. Many proposal writers pick up previously written standard wording-often called boilerplate-for portions of their proposals. There`s certainly nothing wrong with such a practice. It saves time and eliminates errors...or does it?
The purpose of the proposal. Your proposal is a sales tool and should be used as such. It is a declaration of what you plan to do for your client or your supervisor as well as confirmation that you are the right person, department, or company to undertake the project. It should be well thought out, clearly written, adequately illustrated, and professionally presented. Anything less diminishes your chances of obtaining the job. No matter how competent you are and capable of doing the work, the simple truth is that you may not get the opportunity to demonstrate your skills if you prepare and present a proposal that fails to speak well of you.
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