Sophie Moench August 21, 2021 Proposal
Write conversationally. Brief but complete should be your goal. Even if your subject is highly technical, imagine that the person to whom you are writing is sitting across the table from you as you write and you are speaking directly to him or her. We are all a little more careful-more formal-when we write than when we speak, but it serves no good purpose to use flowery language and unnecessarily obscure or pretentious terminology. If there is any doubt whatsoever in your mind that a word or phrase might be misunderstood or foreign to your audience, define it. Those persons who are already familiar with the term will not be offended. Write in complete sentences as much as possible, even when listing numbered or bulleted points.
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.
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.
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.
Keep your writing professional in tone without being stuffy. Although your reading audience may consist entirely of close associates, that does not mean your proposal can be dashed off like a personal note, full of slang and familiarities. Remember as well that English may not be the first language of everyone who listens to your presentation or reads your proposal. If the circumstance is important enough to call for a formal proposal, it requires a professional level of attention.
A proposal is nothing more than a tool that you use to get an assignment. It should not be a blueprint for doing the job. After all, you certainly do not want to give away everything you know in your proposal so that your potential client or supervisor can simply pick it up and hand it over to someone else to implement. There is often a fine line between telling what you plan to do and telling how you plan to do it. The most effective proposals march boldly up to that line...and stop.