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SM&A Proprietary© 2003 SM&A • E-mail: info@smawins.com • Web: www.smawins.com • (949) 975-1550 Fax (949) 975-1624
SM&A Proprietary
People Experience Tools Knowledge Results Confidence
Writing Proposal Text_ pg.1 July 2004SM&A Proprietary© 2003 SM&A • E-mail: info@smawins.com • Web: www.smawins.com • (949) 975-1550 Fax (949) 975-1624
SM&A Proprietary
People Experience Tools Knowledge Results Confidence
Proposal writing guidelines
+ Three Basic Elements of
Developing the Module Draft
n Transitioning from AMU bullets to text
n Using the appropriate writing style
n Making your presentation clear to the reader
+
Because the process has insisted on data through
each story conference iteration …
drafts become easy to write
because “text” is grown
The Module Draft Process
Focuses on Presentation
+ BuildYour Module
Paragraph by Paragraph
n The content for every paragraph is already defined in the AMU
n Don’t allow paragraphs to become too long
n Go back and read through your Mod Spec
n Remind yourself what the reader will be looking for
n Begin each paragraph that suggests the topic
n Limit paragraph content to the message defined in the AMU
n Provide transitions between paragraphs
n Keep sentences short
n A good rule of thumb is to keep sentences no longer than 25 words
n Using big words and a lot of them conveys the image that you don’t know
what you mean
n Often it is a valid perception
+ To Link Benefits to Features,
Think “Because”
n Feature is what you did – benefit is why that’s good
n Features thrill the seller – benefits make the sale
n But benefit must be good for customer – not for you
n If you were to cross and Elephant with a Prima Dona –
n The engineer in you observes that you
would most probably come up with a
two-ton opera singer
n But the marketer in you says that you
might have a principal woman singer who
will work for peanuts
That’s a Feature
That’s a Benefit
+ Writing Style Can Bias the Reader
For or AgainstYou
n You develop a relationship with the reader through your writing
style
n Establishes perception of credibility and confidence
n Creates environment of compatibility or arrogance
n If it is a “friendly read” and easy to score, the evaluator will often become
an ally and look for way to help us win
n Techniques to convey a positive writing style
n Emphasize the present tense
n Don’t be afraid of the first person
n Be positive
n Avoid stilted phrases
n Use the active voice
+
Poor: The Program Manager will
publish a weekly status report
for contractor visibility.
Better: The Program Manager
publishes a weekly status
report for contractor visibility.
Emphasize Present Tense
n Lends air of credibility and confidence
n Gives impression that we are proposing something real rather than
mere good intentions
n Only exception is when it is important to make a distinction
between past, present, and future
+
1. Launch of the first satellite will
occur in month 26.
2. Joe Leader has been
appointed program manager.
We launch the first satellite in
month 26.
Our program manager is
Joe Leader.
Don’t Be Afraid of the First Person
n Stronger, more vigorous, more emphatic
n Use “we”, and “our” instead of “the ABC Company” and “the XYX
Team”
n Remember, customer is looking for a contractor,
not a disembodied entity
+
Positive: He often arrived late.
Passive: He often did not arrive on
time.
Be Positive
n Make Positive Statements
n Shows confidence
n Carries more conviction
n Usually shorter
n Negative statements often
sound evasive
n Avoid caveats and conditional
statements unless they really
are absolutely necessary
Positive: Our training program ….
Conditional: Our proposed training
program ….
+
Avoid Stilted Phrases
n In proposal writing, the challenge is to demonstrate understanding
with statements of substance
n Avoid phrases such as
n “Our Company understands …”
n “It is understood …”
n “We understand …”
n These stilted phrases become unsubstantiated claims and actually
convey the opposite impression
+
Active: Never pour hazardous
chemicals into the sink.
Passive: Hazardous chemicals
should never be poured
into the sink.
Use The Active Voice
n Simpler
n More direct and believable
n More forceful and
self-confident
n Usually less wordy
Active Voice:
When the structure of the sentence has the actor in front of the action
• Australian companies manufacture millions of precision machine tools
Passive Voice:
When the structure of the sentence has the receiver in front of the action
• Millions of precision machine tools are manufactured by Australian companies
+ Use MS Word’s Tools for Spelling
and Grammar Checker
n Test your draft text
n Goals:
n 2-5 sentences/paragraph
n Avg word length <20
n < 25% Passive
n Flesch Reading >58 (but less than
90)
n Flesch Kincaid <13
n Spelling
n When working on you're draft, try
nod to be concerned with any
mispellings
n When your finishd, uze thge spel
ckecker and the granna chucker
n Be sure to run spell checker before
you bring your draft to a story
conference!
+ MakeYour Presentation
Clear to The Reader
n Be specific
n Speak to the reader in his/her own language
n Never fear using little words
n Omit needless words
n Use clichés sparingly
n Be careful when using acronyms
+
Be Specific
n Avoid generalizations
n Be definite and concrete
n Poor:The launch was delayed because of unfavorable weather.
n Better:The launch was delayed because of high winds.
n Best: High winds in excess of 50 knots delayed the launch for three days.
n Good proposals are data rich – they deal in particulars and present
the details that matter
n Steamboat test
n If your description works as well for a steamboat as it does for our
system, then the description is not sufficiently specific
+
Use the Customer’s Language
n Don’t attempt to improve the solicitation’s choice of words
n If it says “Past Experience” don’t use “Past Performance”
n Embed “road signs” in your subheading and text using key words
from the solicitation highlighting the location of our answer
n Speaking to the customer in his/her language is hard
n For example, if you tell a DoD customer to “Secure a Building”
• The Navy will turn off the lights
and lock the doors
• The Army will occupy the building
so no one can enter
• The Marines will assault the
building, capture it using
suppressive fire and close
combat, and defend it
• The Air Force will take out a
three year lease with an option
to buy
+
Never Fear Using Little Words
n Big words often name little things
n Learn to use little words in a big way
n It might not be easy…
n Little words tend to say exactly what you mean
n Remember, most big things have little names
n Dawn – Peace
n Love – War
n Life – God
n Death – Hope
+
The question as to whether whether (the question whether)
There is no doubt that no doubt (doubtless)
Used for fuel purposes used for fuel
He is a man who he
The reason is that because
Owing to the fact that since (because)
In spite of the fact that though (although)
The fact that the tank failed the tank failed
The fact that the test did not succeed the test was unsuccessful
Incorrect Correct
Omit Needless Words
n Also unnecessary sentences and paragraphs
(just as a drawing should contain no unnecessary lines or a machine
should contain no unnecessary parts)
n Some examples:
+
Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)
Is representative of
is clear that
is plain that
kept under surveillance
made an investigation of
notwithstanding the fact that
a considerable margin
on account of
on the basis of
period of time
pertaining to
pursuant to
separate into two equal parts
take appropriate measures
typifies
clearly
plainly
watched
investigated
although
QUANTIFY
because
by
interval – period
about
following
halve
act
+
And KISS Strikes Back
to summarize the above
without variation
with the exception of
afford an opportunity
a great deal of
a great number of
along the lines of
as a general rule
as related to
assuming that
a sufficient number
at all times
at the conclusion of
in summary
stable – constant
except
permit – allow
much
more
like
usually – generally
for – about
if
enough
always
after
+
And KISS Bikes Strack
based on the fact that
by means of
by way of illustration
called attention to the fact
despite the fact that
detailed information
draw to a close
due to the fact that
during which time
estimated at about
except in a small number of cases
exhibit a tendency to
exposure to elevated temperature
due to – because
by
for example
reminded
although
details
end
because
while
estimated
usually
tend to
heat
+
The Return of the Wordi
for the purpose of
from the point of view
in accordance with
in addition (to)
in close proximity
in excess of
in conjunction with
in many cases
in respect to
in the absence of
in the event that
introduced a new
in view of the fact that
involve the necessity of
for – to
for
by – under
also – besides
near
more than
with
often
about – concerning
without
should – if
introduced
considering
requires
+
BCWUA*
n Define acronyms when first used
n However, some acronyms are better known than their definition
n NASA,WBS, RCA
n Redefine acronyms that are reused after their definition is
forgotten
n Pages loaded with acronyms are foreboding
n Any acronym that makes the reader stop and think should be
avoided
n Especially in text
n Avoid parochial or made-up acronyms
*Be careful when using acronyms
+
“Good Writing” – A Review
n Be more or less specific
n Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly
superfluous
n One should never generalize
n The passive voice is to be avoided
n Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary
n Avoid clichés like the plague. (They are old hat.)
n Prepositions are not words to end sentences with
n Employ the vernacular
n Foreign words and phrases are not apropos
n Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
n Understatement is always best
n Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement
n Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake
n Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed
+
Module Draft Checklist
How good is your Module Draft?
ü Does your section respond to the RFP and
implement the appropriate elements of the win
strategy?
ü Does your section sell?
ü Did you prove every claim?
Will the reader be able to answer these 6 questions?
1. How is it better?
2. What are you offering?
3. How are you going to do it?
4. Why is that better?
5. How much will it cost?
6. Why should the customer believe you?

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Writing Proposal Text

  • 1. + SM&A Proprietary© 2003 SM&A • E-mail: info@smawins.com • Web: www.smawins.com • (949) 975-1550 Fax (949) 975-1624 SM&A Proprietary People Experience Tools Knowledge Results Confidence Writing Proposal Text_ pg.1 July 2004SM&A Proprietary© 2003 SM&A • E-mail: info@smawins.com • Web: www.smawins.com • (949) 975-1550 Fax (949) 975-1624 SM&A Proprietary People Experience Tools Knowledge Results Confidence Proposal writing guidelines
  • 2. + Three Basic Elements of Developing the Module Draft n Transitioning from AMU bullets to text n Using the appropriate writing style n Making your presentation clear to the reader
  • 3. + Because the process has insisted on data through each story conference iteration … drafts become easy to write because “text” is grown The Module Draft Process Focuses on Presentation
  • 4. + BuildYour Module Paragraph by Paragraph n The content for every paragraph is already defined in the AMU n Don’t allow paragraphs to become too long n Go back and read through your Mod Spec n Remind yourself what the reader will be looking for n Begin each paragraph that suggests the topic n Limit paragraph content to the message defined in the AMU n Provide transitions between paragraphs n Keep sentences short n A good rule of thumb is to keep sentences no longer than 25 words n Using big words and a lot of them conveys the image that you don’t know what you mean n Often it is a valid perception
  • 5. + To Link Benefits to Features, Think “Because” n Feature is what you did – benefit is why that’s good n Features thrill the seller – benefits make the sale n But benefit must be good for customer – not for you n If you were to cross and Elephant with a Prima Dona – n The engineer in you observes that you would most probably come up with a two-ton opera singer n But the marketer in you says that you might have a principal woman singer who will work for peanuts That’s a Feature That’s a Benefit
  • 6. + Writing Style Can Bias the Reader For or AgainstYou n You develop a relationship with the reader through your writing style n Establishes perception of credibility and confidence n Creates environment of compatibility or arrogance n If it is a “friendly read” and easy to score, the evaluator will often become an ally and look for way to help us win n Techniques to convey a positive writing style n Emphasize the present tense n Don’t be afraid of the first person n Be positive n Avoid stilted phrases n Use the active voice
  • 7. + Poor: The Program Manager will publish a weekly status report for contractor visibility. Better: The Program Manager publishes a weekly status report for contractor visibility. Emphasize Present Tense n Lends air of credibility and confidence n Gives impression that we are proposing something real rather than mere good intentions n Only exception is when it is important to make a distinction between past, present, and future
  • 8. + 1. Launch of the first satellite will occur in month 26. 2. Joe Leader has been appointed program manager. We launch the first satellite in month 26. Our program manager is Joe Leader. Don’t Be Afraid of the First Person n Stronger, more vigorous, more emphatic n Use “we”, and “our” instead of “the ABC Company” and “the XYX Team” n Remember, customer is looking for a contractor, not a disembodied entity
  • 9. + Positive: He often arrived late. Passive: He often did not arrive on time. Be Positive n Make Positive Statements n Shows confidence n Carries more conviction n Usually shorter n Negative statements often sound evasive n Avoid caveats and conditional statements unless they really are absolutely necessary Positive: Our training program …. Conditional: Our proposed training program ….
  • 10. + Avoid Stilted Phrases n In proposal writing, the challenge is to demonstrate understanding with statements of substance n Avoid phrases such as n “Our Company understands …” n “It is understood …” n “We understand …” n These stilted phrases become unsubstantiated claims and actually convey the opposite impression
  • 11. + Active: Never pour hazardous chemicals into the sink. Passive: Hazardous chemicals should never be poured into the sink. Use The Active Voice n Simpler n More direct and believable n More forceful and self-confident n Usually less wordy Active Voice: When the structure of the sentence has the actor in front of the action • Australian companies manufacture millions of precision machine tools Passive Voice: When the structure of the sentence has the receiver in front of the action • Millions of precision machine tools are manufactured by Australian companies
  • 12. + Use MS Word’s Tools for Spelling and Grammar Checker n Test your draft text n Goals: n 2-5 sentences/paragraph n Avg word length <20 n < 25% Passive n Flesch Reading >58 (but less than 90) n Flesch Kincaid <13 n Spelling n When working on you're draft, try nod to be concerned with any mispellings n When your finishd, uze thge spel ckecker and the granna chucker n Be sure to run spell checker before you bring your draft to a story conference!
  • 13. + MakeYour Presentation Clear to The Reader n Be specific n Speak to the reader in his/her own language n Never fear using little words n Omit needless words n Use clichés sparingly n Be careful when using acronyms
  • 14. + Be Specific n Avoid generalizations n Be definite and concrete n Poor:The launch was delayed because of unfavorable weather. n Better:The launch was delayed because of high winds. n Best: High winds in excess of 50 knots delayed the launch for three days. n Good proposals are data rich – they deal in particulars and present the details that matter n Steamboat test n If your description works as well for a steamboat as it does for our system, then the description is not sufficiently specific
  • 15. + Use the Customer’s Language n Don’t attempt to improve the solicitation’s choice of words n If it says “Past Experience” don’t use “Past Performance” n Embed “road signs” in your subheading and text using key words from the solicitation highlighting the location of our answer n Speaking to the customer in his/her language is hard n For example, if you tell a DoD customer to “Secure a Building” • The Navy will turn off the lights and lock the doors • The Army will occupy the building so no one can enter • The Marines will assault the building, capture it using suppressive fire and close combat, and defend it • The Air Force will take out a three year lease with an option to buy
  • 16. + Never Fear Using Little Words n Big words often name little things n Learn to use little words in a big way n It might not be easy… n Little words tend to say exactly what you mean n Remember, most big things have little names n Dawn – Peace n Love – War n Life – God n Death – Hope
  • 17. + The question as to whether whether (the question whether) There is no doubt that no doubt (doubtless) Used for fuel purposes used for fuel He is a man who he The reason is that because Owing to the fact that since (because) In spite of the fact that though (although) The fact that the tank failed the tank failed The fact that the test did not succeed the test was unsuccessful Incorrect Correct Omit Needless Words n Also unnecessary sentences and paragraphs (just as a drawing should contain no unnecessary lines or a machine should contain no unnecessary parts) n Some examples:
  • 18. + Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) Is representative of is clear that is plain that kept under surveillance made an investigation of notwithstanding the fact that a considerable margin on account of on the basis of period of time pertaining to pursuant to separate into two equal parts take appropriate measures typifies clearly plainly watched investigated although QUANTIFY because by interval – period about following halve act
  • 19. + And KISS Strikes Back to summarize the above without variation with the exception of afford an opportunity a great deal of a great number of along the lines of as a general rule as related to assuming that a sufficient number at all times at the conclusion of in summary stable – constant except permit – allow much more like usually – generally for – about if enough always after
  • 20. + And KISS Bikes Strack based on the fact that by means of by way of illustration called attention to the fact despite the fact that detailed information draw to a close due to the fact that during which time estimated at about except in a small number of cases exhibit a tendency to exposure to elevated temperature due to – because by for example reminded although details end because while estimated usually tend to heat
  • 21. + The Return of the Wordi for the purpose of from the point of view in accordance with in addition (to) in close proximity in excess of in conjunction with in many cases in respect to in the absence of in the event that introduced a new in view of the fact that involve the necessity of for – to for by – under also – besides near more than with often about – concerning without should – if introduced considering requires
  • 22. + BCWUA* n Define acronyms when first used n However, some acronyms are better known than their definition n NASA,WBS, RCA n Redefine acronyms that are reused after their definition is forgotten n Pages loaded with acronyms are foreboding n Any acronym that makes the reader stop and think should be avoided n Especially in text n Avoid parochial or made-up acronyms *Be careful when using acronyms
  • 23. + “Good Writing” – A Review n Be more or less specific n Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous n One should never generalize n The passive voice is to be avoided n Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary n Avoid clichés like the plague. (They are old hat.) n Prepositions are not words to end sentences with n Employ the vernacular n Foreign words and phrases are not apropos n Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc. n Understatement is always best n Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement n Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake n Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed
  • 24. + Module Draft Checklist How good is your Module Draft? ü Does your section respond to the RFP and implement the appropriate elements of the win strategy? ü Does your section sell? ü Did you prove every claim? Will the reader be able to answer these 6 questions? 1. How is it better? 2. What are you offering? 3. How are you going to do it? 4. Why is that better? 5. How much will it cost? 6. Why should the customer believe you?