Birgit Kuester December 14, 2021 Proposal
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.
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 organize your thoughts, make notes of what you need to include and then sort them into the order in which you intend to address each one during the presentation meeting with your client or supervisor. It is best to sort like with like. That is, do not mix company and departmental backgrounds or personal biographies, credentials, and references with your plan of action. Place such support and historical material-evidence of your capabilities-after the plan that you are suggesting.
Take care to avoid inadvertently implying commitments for actions other than those specifically stated within your plan. Do not, for example, allow an inference to be drawn that you will supply certain materials, personnel, documentation, training, or ongoing support if you do not intend to do so. Likewise, be cautious during your presentation about committing to oral agreements that are not contained in the written proposal. It is perfectly acceptable-even advisable-to outline both your obligations and those of the individual or company to whom you are submitting your proposal. Better to discuss and agree upon such items at the time of the proposal presentation than to face misunderstandings down the road.
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.
Requests for proposals (RFP). Although your firm or department over the years may have developed a format for preparation of bids and proposals, it is sometimes necessary that you adapt your design. Requests for proposals (RFP) issued by large corporations or governmental agencies often require that each proposal conform to their very specific formats.