Sophie Moench December 8, 2021 Proposal
Unplating the boiler. Many proposal writers pick up previously written standard wording-often called boilerplate-for portions of their proposals. There`s certainly nothing wrong with such a practice. It saves time and eliminates errors...or does it?
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.
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.
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.
Because the plan portion represents the meat of your proposal, it should summarize your strategy clearly and include time lines, opportunities for feedback, and provisions both for periodic evaluations and measurement of the end result. Two-way communications are extremely important to the success of most projects and, for that reason, should be built into each procedure and objective. Routine reports and approvals, explicitly provided for within your proposal, will help keep communications open and allay possible concerns during the course of the project. If your project must conform to regulatory standards, tell exactly how tests and verifications will occur. And if time or other constraints are prescribed by outside parties, describe the process you will use to satisfy those requirements.
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.