Birgit Kuester December 27, 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.
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.
When the day arrives for your presentation, make sure that all the decision makers will be in attendance. Call ahead the day before and ask whether anyone will not be present. If you know their names, read the list to your primary contact. Because missing persons might later receive the actual attendees interpretation of the meeting in place of your carefully planned presentation, it is best to have everyone in the same room at the same time. If that does not seem to be feasible, ask to reschedule the presentation date until all concerned can attend. Ten o`clock in the morning is usually the most opportune time for an hour-and-a-half to two-hour meeting; Friday afternoon is the least favorable.
Keep it simple. Use good quality paper stock-something with a high rag content has the best feel-and avoid colored papers. Rather than highlight, they tend to distract. Stick to eight point five x eleven size and fold flow charts, schematics, organizational charts, graphs, and other illustrations within the proposal itself. Larger sheets are difficult to file and quickly become dog-eared, a tattered appearance that will make your entire proposal look bad. If you are using large plans and drawings, list them as coded illustrations within the text of your proposal and submit them as separate exhibits.
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.
The problem and the plan. The primary section of the proposal describes the problem or project as you see it. That bears repeating: State your understanding of the need and circumstances that prompted your submitting the proposal. Explain the rationale for action. That is, tell your audience what their problem is and why they need your expertise and assistance. Do not assume they know. Define the scope of the undertaking and the solutions and goals you intend to achieve, describing each in terms of discrete objectives.