Showing posts from October, 2019

Nightmare on Proposal Street

Proposal horror stories: for many of us, they have left deep scars, driving contingency plans and schedule buffers that often frustrate our teams. When developing our proposal schedules, APMP advises us to build in 10 percent of our proposal development time to plan for unexpected events. But until you’ve been the one stuffing binders in the back of an SUV, illegally speeding down a shoulder during bumper-to-bumper traffic, you’ll never truly understand the importance of these planning measures. And if you’ve ever taken these extreme measures only to still miss your proposal delivery—I know you understand the importance of planning even more deeply than those of us who have not! In honor of the upcoming Halloween festivities, I thought I would share one of my favorite proposal horror stories. Murphy’s Law A few years ago, I worked on one of those proposals where if something could go wrong, it went wrong. By this time in my career, however, I had already witnessed severa

Why Paragraph and Narrative Structure are Important

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 concludin

Why Managing Stress is Critical and Five Easy Methods to Use

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 abilit

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

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 pla