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Why Paragraph and Narrative Structure are Important

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Poorly-written paragraphs and narrative can obscure your message and make it difficult for the evaluator to follow your proposal’s logic and main points. In contrast, well-written paragraphs and narratives present ideas clearly and comprehensively, in a way that can be easily understood and scored by the evaluator. In addition to making your proposal easier to score, strong writing can contribute to your company’s credibility in the eyes of the evaluator. Disjointed writing with typos and misspellings can send a subliminal message to evaluators that your company is sloppy, disorganized, and careless. Well-written paragraphs and well-structured narratives are more likely to give evaluators the impression that your company is careful, methodical, and focused, which can make evaluators more receptive to your solution.
Basic Paragraph Structure Individual paragraphs make up the narrative of your proposal response and comprise the topic sentence, supporting details, and concluding sentence…

Why Managing Stress is Critical and Five Easy Methods to Use

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There’s no doubt about it: proposals are stressful. We are constantly battling deadlines, putting out fires, overcoming roadblocks, and solving problems. And those are just the stressors we deal with at work. Compounded with the stresses we deal with in our personal lives, these things can start to take a toll on our well-being.
Although we all know about stress—and generally recognize its symptoms—we don’t always take the time to actively manage the stress that we deal with on a daily basis. While a small amount of stress can be positive and motivate you to prepare or perform, like when you interview for a job or make a presentation, long-term stress can be extremely harmful. Chronic stress can suppress the immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems. Over time, routine stress can contribute to more serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.
Mindfulness and Managing Stress Mindfulness is the ability to be aware o…

Why Your Storyboarding Process Isn’t Working and How You Can Fix It

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Storyboards have long been a part of our standard proposal best practices. Storyboarding is a critical planning process that increases proposal writing efficiency by helping writers understand the task, brainstorm, and then map and/or plan their writing before beginning a first draft. However, as we’ve all experienced, storyboards are difficult to implement, and when we do use them, they are often ineffective. But this isn’t really a fault of the storyboard—it’s because we have been using storyboards inappropriately all along!
Problem 1: You’re Storyboarding in Silos How often do we hand our teams a capture plan, an RFP, and blank storyboards—and then ask them to fill them out and turn them in some time before the storyboard review? If this is how you are using storyboards, then yes, you are wasting everybody’s time. What we have lost sight of over the years is that the real intent of storyboarding is to foster collaborative thinking! The process of visual thinking and planning allows…

The Story Behind Storyboarding, and why it is Critical to Your Proposal Process

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Storyboards have long been a part of our standard proposal best practices. We all know that the proposal giants include storyboarding as an integral part of the proposal development process, but where did this concept of storyboards originate? Interestingly, the storyboarding process, in the form we know it today, was actually developed at Walt Disney Productions during the early 1930s!
Traditionally, a storyboard is a graphic organizer of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, or interactive media sequence. The purpose of the storyboard is to visualize the storytelling, focus the story and timing in key frames, and define the technical parameters (e.g., description of the motion, camera, lighting, etc.). Because of the necessity for visual appeal, as well as the desire to present a cohesive “story” in our proposal responses, we adopted this process into our industry standard best practices.
Why Storyboarding is Important Storyboa…

Why You Should Always Establish a Proposal-Specific Style Guide

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What is a Style Guide? A proposal style guide is a set of standards for the writing, formatting, and design of a proposal. A style guide establishes style requirements to promote consistency within your proposal. Style guides set standards to be used in areas such as punctuation, capitalization, formatting of numbers and dates, table appearance, and other areas. The standards should include conventions from your proposal department’s standard style guide (if it has one), but should also be tailored to the requirements of each individual customer and request for proposal (RFP).
Why is it Important to Document a Style Guide? By establishing these guidelines early on with a style guide, proposal writing starts out consistent. Make sure authors review the style guide before they start writing. This will ensure they are using common conventions from the start. How often do we get to Pink or Red Team, and reviewers provide comments such as, “I can’t tell if this is being led by a Project or…

The Great Debate: Are You Team Oxford Comma?

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Because they are grammatically optional, Oxford commas are highly debated, and those with an opinion on them tend to have a strong one.
The Oxford comma, or serial comma, is an optional comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction in a series of three or more items. It's known as the Oxford comma because it was traditionally used by the Oxford University Press.
Interestingly, the Associated Press Stylebook (commonly called the AP Stylebook)—the style guide used by newspapers—advises against the use of the Oxford comma. However, many other American style guides require the Oxford comma, including APA style, The Chicago Manual of Style, The MLA Style Manual, Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual.
Those who favor using Oxford commas typically tout their importance in clarifying the meaning of complex lists. Oxford comma champions know that omitting the Oxford comma can lead to confusing and ambiguous sentences…

Touchdowns, Field Goals, and RFPs: 5 Things Proposals and Football Have In Common

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With the NFL season kicking off on Thursday night, I started considering the similarities between proposals and football. When you start to break it down, besides proposals having a much lower probability for injury, the two are really not all that different. In both proposals and football, the following are all critical to success: preparation, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and communication. And perhaps the strongest similarity between the two: the ultimate goal of both proposals and football is to score a higher than the competition and win!
Preparation is Critical In football, preparation and game planning are critical. Preparing for a football game begins well before the team steps out onto the field. Players and coaches frequently spend weeks learning their opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies to develop the best approach for the match-up ahead. Coaches work with the players to define schemes and expectations. Each football game is a different battle wi…