Birgit Kuester December 27, 2021 Proposal
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.
Try to avoid using jargon, acronyms, and insider terms. Instead of making you sound more intelligent and knowledgeable, they can obstruct the communications process and produce a contrary effect. For example, although you feel sure your audience knows what you are talking about, there is always the chance that one member of the group reviewing your proposal may misunderstand an expression. Or perhaps he or she may simply never have heard a particular term and is reluctant to ask for clarification. Unbeknownst to you, that person may be someone who ultimately has a strong influence over whether your proposal is accepted or rejected.
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.
The rest of the story. Graphs, charts, line drawings, time lines, and other illustrations help convey information quickly and logically. Include them in your proposal in ways you think they would best clarify and complement the text, being careful not to separate them physically from the material to which they relate. That is, do not place illustrative items in the appendix because that encourages flipping pages back and forth as you are trying to present your case.
Depending on what you are proposing, the readers you want to target might be members of a grant committee, potential students, parents of students, teachers, school administrators, a loan committee, or a governmental organization. It is important to consider them carefully, and tailor your information to them. What do they want to know? What concerns might they have? Are there scheduling or budget restrictions? At the very least, this client-oriented section should have a Requirements page that summarizes what they have asked for, or what you believe they need. You may also want pages like Schedule, Deadlines, Limitations, Budget, Goals, Considerations, Special Needs, and so forth, to describe in detail your understanding of what the client needs. This is not yet the time to brag about your proposed program or your organization. Keep this section focused on information about what the client wants or needs.
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.