10 Tips for Writing Easy-to-Read Proposals
We have talked quite a bit lately about the powerful tool that is ProposalHelper and we know lots of our clients have taken advantage of this great service. But for those DIYers in the crowd that enjoy writing proposals, we have some advice to help you write your next proposal the right way. Here are some tips that might help.
- Don’t bury the lead. Speak to the needs and wants of the organization up front when writing proposals. Your product may have a 101 uses, but you need to push the use that actually address the needs of the agency or they will not be interested in moving forward with you.
- Keep it simple. If you have a choice between using a big word and a smaller word—choose the smaller word. You don’t want your reader grabbing for a dictionary every other sentence. Help them get through the proposal as quickly as possible.
- Write in the now. Use an active voice, not a passive voice. An active voice is easier to read and more compelling. Just remember: “I threw the ball,” is an active voice and “The ball was thrown by me” is passive.
- Use correct grammar. If you’re in doubt whether the right word is “fewer” or “less,” it’s easy to search for guidance. A good site to visit for tips is grammar.com.
- Avoid jargon. You may love baseball and relate with terms like “cut-off man” or “caught looking” but your reader might not. If you want to connect, stay on neutral ground when writing proposals.
- Stay away from hard-sell language. People tend to mistrust advertising, marketing or sales pitches and if you come on too hard, they will tune you out.
- Keep sentences short. A paragraph should be two to four sentences. Sentences should vary in length, to keep things interesting and balanced.
- Avoid nominalizations. Nominalizations are verbs that are made into nouns by adding “ion” at the end. Which is better? “An evaluation of the procedure needs to be done,” or “We need to evaluate the procedure.”
- Put the action in the verb. Don’t spread the action out across the entire sentence. “The establishment of a different approach has become a necessity,” doesn’t carry the power of “We have to do things differently.”
- Every writer has his or her bad writing habit. You may get stuck on a single word or go overboard with adjectives. Know what yours is and do a special edit to remove it. Once you’ve written the proposal, go back through to look for your particular idiosyncrasy and correct it.
You can find great resources to help you when writing proposals. Remember that if you need help writing proposals, BidSync has a partnership with ProposalHelper that offers special pricing for BidSync clients. They provide a range of services from assessing whether your proposal is compliant all the way to creating the proposal for you.