Heike Moeller September 24, 2021 Proposal
Show and tell. Resist, even to the point of seeming obstreperous, all requests to "just mail it to us." Anything short of a face-to-face meeting will inevitably detract from your proposal. After all, your proposal is meant to sell more than your services; it also sells you.
Boilerplate has a limited shelf life. It grows stale and out of date before you realize it. Absolutely no less often than every six months you should review each one of the sections that you routinely include with your proposals. Do not rely upon an assistant to do this job for you because he or she may not have sufficiently current knowledge. Also, it`s you who are going to make the presentation to your client or supervisor, and, therefore, it`s you who will need to explain erroneous, incomplete, or perhaps even confidential information that somehow crept into your proposal.
As you lay out your plan, try to keep in mind a couple of questions that your audience may not ask but will certainly be thinking: "What can we expect as a minimum outcome of your work?" and "What steps will you follow, and how will we know you (and we) are on target?"
Where do I start? After initial pleasantries are out of the way, start your presentation with your cover letter. I is your personal introduction to your audience, evidence that you understand the need for the project you are describing, and your statement that you are the right person or company to do the job. Call attention to the letter, physically take it from the proposal-remember, it should not be bound into the proposal itself-and hold it in both hands in front of you. That`s the cue for everyone else in the room to do likewise. They will do it if you do it.
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.
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.
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