Sophie Moench August 22, 2021 Proposal
A word about organizing. Before actually starting to write any part of your proposal, think about what you want to put into it-and what you prefer to leave out. A logical, sequential construction becomes an outline that enables you to move through your oral presentation smoothly and thoroughly, developing both your narrative and your qualifications for the job as you go.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More often than not, when you hand a group of people a printed proposal to follow as you make your presentation, someone is bound to turn immediately to the last page to check your cost estimate. Do not put it there. Because cost is only one element of any proposal-along with time, quality of work and materials, and benefits to be derived from the project-present it as such and put it into your plan where it most logically fits. If you choose to indicate individual item costs throughout the proposal, do not forget to include a recap page with complete tallies.
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