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How to Quickly Improve the Writing in Your Proposals


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This is the presentation Daniel Maddux gave at the October 1, 2014 meeting of the Greater Houston Chapter of APMP. It received the highest rating for a presentation in the chapter's history.

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How to Quickly Improve the Writing in Your Proposals

  1. 1. Quickly Improve the Writing in Your Proposals Daniel Maddux
  2. 2. Scope/responding to the actual requirement 17% Inadequate reviews 11% Other 11% Overly complicated 17% Schizophrenic 11% Embarrassing boilerplate Vendor-focused 11% 11% Glaring text errors 11% Biggest Problems with Text
  3. 3. What is the biggest problem with the writing in proposals? Content that is not compliant! I can't tell you the number of times I get content that does not follow the outline provided, does not answer the question fully, or completely ignores the page requirements. Jeannette Waldie, CPP APMP Owner at J. K. Waldie & Associates
  4. 4. Is King King Content gets dumped.
  5. 5. Complicated
  6. 6. …Perhaps the most common problem, however, is that a well-intentioned and informed writer simply fails to get the message across to an intelligent, interested reader. In that case, stilted jargon and complex constructions are usually the villains. Warren Buffet preface to the SEC Plain English handbook
  7. 7. REMEDIES key question Does it make sense the first time you read it? tool any others? Use metrics.
  8. 8. EXERCISE Use Word metrics to simplify writing
  9. 9. Focus
  10. 10. One the biggest problems with the text in proposals? Talking about your own company WAY TOO MUCH! The focus should be on the client. I try to use the rule of using your clients' name three times more than your own.” Krissy Chaney Proposal Writer at RTL Networks, Inc
  11. 11. REMEDIES key question How many times did you use the customer’s name vs. yours? tool any others? Plan the focus up front. Prioritize key sections.
  12. 12. EXERCISE Rewrite a vendor-focused section of text
  13. 13. Text Errors
  14. 14. Do not tolerate any mElitie Doscumetntaation Ekmployeee Stasndard.s
  15. 15. REMEDIES key question Does any of this make us look dumb? tool Use a different set of eyes. any others?
  16. 16. Find as many errors as you can! EXERCISE
  17. 17. Text
  18. 18. Different authors may yield different styles or voice. These differences may also manifest themselves with the facts ... Somebody has to do a “horizontal alignment” check. Al Pena Principal at A&M CoOp
  19. 19. REMEDIES key question Do we have a pre-existing standard? tool Make sure you do! Have a rational workflow. any others?
  20. 20. EXERCISE Determine what needs to be standardized
  21. 21. Boilerplate
  22. 22. Nothing says "I don't give a fig" like calling the customer Acme Manufacturing when their name is Amalgamated International. Peter Baron Head of Bid Management at Bull Information Systems
  23. 23. REMEDIES key question Which parts do we need to customize for each customer? tool any others? Have a list of key text to customize. Use standard terms.
  24. 24. EXERCISE Brainstorm for key kinds of information to look for
  25. 25. Daniel Maddux (713)742-3341