Tips on Effective Proposal Writing

As a proposal writer you should remember that when you submit your proposal you are selling your ideas. And to sell anything, you have to focus on the needs and wants of the person you’re selling to.

Make a List of Appealing Points

Unfortunately most proposals are usually announcements instead of offers to do something. But if your proposal doesn’t tell others how good you are, then what does it do? You need to ask yourself, what is required by the decision maker, what are his/her priorities and what is he/she looking for in your proposal to select it? For example if you are writing a proposal for a professional organization, you need to ask yourself what their priorities are: lower costs, higher attendance, more renewals, fewer complaints, etc. So make a list of those points you feel will be the most appealing.

The Golden Sentence

In one sentence, write the essence of what your proposal is for. This will be a sentence that starts with “You get,” and not “I propose.” For example, “You get the training your members have requested” (for a proposal to an association). Or, “You get the destination most employees voted for last year” (for a proposal to an executive committee).

Your theme should be your strongest benefit or result. Try to put yourself in the mind of the decision makers and decide which of the possible themes is the most compelling to them. Think about what their issues and problems are and how you are proposing to resolve them. Streamline your theme and the Golden Sentence to answer to that specific need.

Don’t Wander Off from Your Goal

Once you have that Golden Sentence ready, you should continuously check your writing, every paragraph, with that sentence. Are you writing in line with the intentions of your Golden Sentence or are you wandering off and starting to emphasize other points that should be left off? Try to reiterate it in different paragraphs and sections so that the reader understands the reasoning throughout your proposal and lends himself/herself to that idea.

Go Right to the Point

Be precise and get to the point right away. Many people want to read the conclusion from the beginning. So give it to them in the first paragraph. Your writing should not bore them; instead, it should inspire them to read on. Make your strongest points right in the beginning and use the rest of the proposal to elaborate on them and make the initial impact more effective.

Impress Your Reader

Instead of writing generalized sentences and abstract ideas, it is extremely effective to give specific examples and case studies. This makes people interact with your writing. And don’t generalize your examples either: be specific, give detail and tell the reader what specific benefit came out of it. Above all he/she should understand why you are using this example in the proposal and how it lends itself to this specific proposal. At the same time, you should refrain from using fancy and/or buzz words. They don’t impress; they have a negative effect. Simple words are usually the most effective.

Read and Write Over and Over Again

The idea is that every time you read your writing, you should do it with the goal of making it better and to the point. But how do you grade yourself on that? This is where we go back to the Golden Sentence again. The Golden Sentence helps you see if your editions are effective or not. The closer you can get the reader to understand and lend himself/herself to the idea in your Golden Sentence, the more effective your writing and your corrections are.

The above were some general ideas in proposal writing. I will go into more detail in other posts. Please visit our posts at

By |2017-10-30T08:39:41+00:00November 14th, 2015|Proposal Writing|Comments Off on Tips on Effective Proposal Writing

About the Author:

Ab Vand has more than 25 years of proposal writing and capture management experience on government contracts especially in defense, construction, and IT sectors. Ab has a track record of writing over 100 successful proposals for above $1 million contracts. Ab is currently the VP of Capture and Proposal Development at GDI Consulting, a well-established firm on proposal writing and contract management. Ab has written a number of articles on proposal writing and capture management, and regularly holds training courses for companies and individuals on ways to improve their winning chances.