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Business and Technical English Writing

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In this lecture you will learn:

• The variety of proposals - Writing situations

• Proposal readers are investors

• The questions readers ask most often

• Strategy of the conventional

superstructure for proposals

• Superstructure of proposals

– Introduction

– Problem

In this lecture you will learn:

– When readers define the problem for you

– When readers provide a general statement of


– When you must define the problem yourself

– Objectives

– Product

– Method

– Resources

– Schedule

– Management

– Costs

The variety of proposal writing situations

• You may write proposals in a wide variety

of situations

– Your readers may be employed in your

organization, or they may be employed in

other organizations

– Your readers may have asked you to submit a

proposal, or you may submit it to them on

your own initiative

The variety of proposal writing situations

– Your proposal may be in competition against

others, or it may be considered on its own

merits alone

– Your proposal may need to be approved by

various people in your organization before

you submit it to your readers, or you may

submit it directly yourself

The variety of proposal writing situations

– You may have to follow regulations

concerning the content, structure and format

of your proposal, or you may be free to write

your proposal entirely as you think

– Once you have delivered the proposal to your

readers, they may follow any of the wide

variety of methods for evaluating it.

Example Situation 1:

• Helen wanted a permission to undertake a

special project. She thought that her

employers should develop a computer system

that employees could use to reserve

conference rooms. She concluded that her

company needed such a system as she had

arrived for a meeting several times only

to find out that the room was reserved. As

she is employed to write computer

programs, she is well qualified to write

one. However she cannot work on it without

the permission of her boss. Consequently,

she wrote a proposal to them.


• As she wrote, she had to think about two

people, her boss and her boss’s boss, who

had to decide without consulting other

people. Because her employers had no

specific guidelines, she could use any

format, structure and content to write her

proposal. Furthermore she did not need

anyone else’s permission to write the

proposal, although she would need an

approval for sending a proposal to another



• Finally Helen did not need to

worry about competition from

other departments, because hers

would be considered on its own

merits. However her proposal

had to be persuasive enough to

convince her readers that her

time would be better utilized

than doing her regular duties.

Example, Situation 2:

• The second proposal was written under much

different circumstances than was Helen’s.

To begin with three people wrote it. The

writers were a producer, a script writer

and a business manager, seeking funds from

a from a non-profit organization, and the

federal government to produce television

programs. The department learned that the

Government was interested in making

programs about the environment. To learn

more about what Government wanted, the

writers obtained copies for “requests for



• In their proposal, the writers

addressed an audience much different

from Helen’s. The government

receives about four proposals daily,

one it can fund. To evaluate the

proposals it sends the proposals to

experts in the country. The reviews

for these proposals are reviewed by

the staff of the Government. Those

that receive the best response are



• Before the writers could even mail

the proposal to the Government, they

had to obtain the approval for it

from several administrators at the

station. That’s because the proposal

if accepted would be a contract

between the station and the

Government. By means of its approval

process, the station assures its

self that all the contacts it makes

are beneficial to it.

Proposal Readers are Investors:

• The proposals written by Helen and the

three writers from the TV station illustrate

some of the differences between different

proposal writing situations.

• Despite these differences, however almost

all proposal writing situations have two

important features in common. (next slide)

Proposal Readers are Investors:

– In your proposals, you ask decision-makers to

invest some resources, such as time and

money, so that the thing you propose can be


– Your readers will make their investment

decisions cautiously. They will be accrately

aware that their resources are limited, that if

they decide to invest in the purchase of

projects you propose, those resources will not

be available for other uses.

The questions readers ask most often

• As cautious investors, proposals readers

ask many questions about purchases,

projects, and others things proposed to


• But from situation to situation the question

remain basically the same

• Furthermore the answers that people at

work find persuasive and satisfying are

also the same type.

The questions readers ask most often

• Problem:

– Your readers will want to know why you are

making the proposal and why they should be

interested in it.

– What problems need, or goal does your

proposal address – and why is that problem,

need, or goal important to them

The questions readers ask most often

• Solution

– Your readers exactly want to know what you

propose to make to do and how it relates to

the problem you described.

– Therefore they will ask “what kind of a

solution will be a successful solution to this

problem have to do?”

The questions readers ask most often

• Solution

– They might ask “how do you propose to do

these things?”

– They will examine carefully your responses,

trying to determine whether it is likely that

your overall strategy and your specific plan

will work.

The questions readers ask most often

• Costs

– What will be your proposed product or activity

cost your readers – and is it worth the cost to


• Capability

– If your readers pay or authorize you to

perform this work, how do they know they can

depend on you to deliver what you expected?

Strategy of conventional

superstructures for proposals

• The conventional superstructure for

proposals is a framework for answering

those questions – one that has been found

successful in repeated use in the kinds of

situations you will encounter on the job.

• When you follow this superstructure, you

provide information on the up to ten topics,

which will be discussed shortly.

Strategy of conventional

superstructures for proposals

• In some cases you will include information of all

ten topics, but in others you will cover only some

of them.

• Even in the briefest proposals, however you will

probably need to treat the following for topics

– Introduction

– Problem

– Solution

– Costs

Strategy of conventional

superstructures for proposals

• When you provide information on these

three topics, however, you should much

more than provide data.

• You should also try to make persuasive


• The following slide describes the

persuasive points for each of the ten


Strategy of conventional

superstructures for proposals

• As you write, you will need to see the

relationships among the ten topics.

• Think of them as a sequence in which you

lead your readers through the following

progression of thoughts.

– The readers learn generally what you want to

do. (Introduction)


Strategy of conventional

superstructures for proposals

– The readers are persuaded that there is a

problem, need, or goal that is important to

them. (Problem)

– The readers are persuaded that the proposed

action plan will be effective in solving the

problem, meeting the need, achieving the

goal that readers now agree is important



Strategy of conventional

superstructures for proposals

• The readers are persuaded that you are

capable of planning and managing the

proposed solution. (Method, resources,

schedule, qualifications and management)

• The readers are persuaded that the costs

of the proposed action is reasonable in the

light of the benefits the action will bring.

Strategy of conventional

superstructures for proposals

• There is no guarantee that your readers

will actually read you proposal from front

to back or concentrate on each and every

word you write.

• Consider how readers approach long


• Each volume of your proposal is evaluated

by a different set of experts, specializing in

their own domains.

Strategy of conventional

superstructures for proposals

• Even when readers will not read your

proposal straight through, the account

given above of the relationships among

the parts can help you.

• You can write, keeping them in mind a

tightly focused proposal in which all the

parts support one another effectively.

Various lengths of proposals

• The preceding discussion mentions

proposals that are several volumes long.

• Such proposals can run into hundreds or

even thousands of pages.

• On the other hand some proposals are

less than a page.

• How do you know how long your

proposals should be.

Various lengths of proposals:

• Sometimes you can be brief and still very


• Often you will need to touch upon only few

of the ten items listed in the table

described before.

• For instance Helen’s’ proposal involved

only one person Helen.

Various lengths of proposals:

• Similarly, her proposal didn’t need any

management plan because her readers

were already aware of her abilities as a

writer of programs

• She didn’t have to say anything about

them, except perhaps say a few words

about the experience she had in writing

such programs.

• And because she was asking only two

weeks time to prepare the program, she

didn’t have to present a detailed budget

report, though she needed to justify her

proposal schedule.

• In other situations such as writing to NASA

or some other big department you need to

write lengthy proposals.

Various lengths of proposals Various lengths of proposals

• Those proposals will be long as you would

need to address the ten topics, and your

discussion of each of these topics must

answer fully the questions you have.

• In the end then how to decide how long a

proposal should be, you must think about

your readers, anticipating their questions

and their reactions to what you are writing.

Superstructure for proposals:

• In the remaining of the lecture we will

describe in detail each of the ten topics

that form the conventional superstructure

for proposals.

• As you go along, keep in mind that the

conventional superstructure represents

only a general plan.

Superstructure for proposals:

• You must use your imagination and

creativity to adapt it effectively to your

particular situation.

• In addition, as you plan and write your

proposal, remember that the ten topics

identify the kinds of information you need

to provide, not necessarily the titles of

sections you will include.

Superstructure for proposals:

• In brief proposals, some parts take only a

sentence or a paragraph, so that several

are grouped together.

• For example, writers often combine their

announcements of their proposal, their

discussion of the problem, and their

explanation of the objectives under a

single heading which might be

“Introduction”, “Problem” or “Need”.

Superstructure for proposals:

• Also remember that the conventional

superstructure may be used with any of

the three common formats:

– Letters

– Memos

– Books

• While writing your proposal, you should

have sufficient information about the

particular format you are going to see.


• At the beginning of a proposal you want to

do the same thing that you do at the

beginning of anything else you write oin

the job.

• Tell your readers what you are writing


• In a proposal this means announcing what

you are proposing.


• How loing and detailed should the

introductory announcement be?

• In proposals the introductory

announcements vary considerably in

length but are almost always very brief.

• By custom the writers reserve the full

custom of what they propose until later,

after they have discussed the problem that

their proposal will help to solve.


• You may be able to introduce your

proposal in a single sentence.

• Helen did this in her proposal

– I request a permission to spend two weeks

writing, testing and implementing a program

for scheduling conference rooms.


• When you propose something more

complex than a two-week project, you may

need more words to introduce it.

• In addition sometimes you may need to

provide background information to help

your readers understand what you have in



• Once you have announced what you are

proposing, you must persuade your

readers that your proposed action will

address the problem significant to them.

• Your description of the problem is crucial

to the success of the proposal.

• You must not only define the problem but

also make the problem seem relevant to

the raeders.

When the readers define the problem for you

• You need to do the least research when

the readers define the problem.

• This can happen when the reader has

asked you to submit the proposal.

• In such a situation you primary purpose in

describing the problem will be to show

your readers that you thoroughly

understand what they want.

When readers provide the general statement of the problem

• At other times you will need to devote

research and creativity in writing a


• When you are such a situation, you should

find out what sort of problem your readers

will consider important.

When you must define the problem yourself

• In some situations, you may not have the

aid of explicit statements from your

readers to help you formulate the problem.

• This is most likely to happen whn you are

preparing a proposal on your own

initiative, without being asked someone

else to submit it.

In this lecture you learnt

• The variety of proposals - Writing


• Proposal readers are investors

• The questions readers ask most often

• Strategy of the conventional

superstructure for proposals

• Superstructure of proposals

– Introduction

– Problem


• When you describe the product your proposal

will produce, you explain your plan for achieving

the objectives you told your readers about.

• The describe your product persuasively, you

need to do three things

– Tell you readers how you reach your objectives

– Secondly you provide enough details to satisfy your


– Thirdly you explain the desirability of the product of

your project


• The decision makers who act upon

proposals sometimes need to be assured

that you can in fact, produce the results

you promise.

• That happens specially in situations where

you are offering something that takes

special expertise – something to be

customized or created only if your

proposal is approved.


• By discussing the facilities, equipment,

and other resources to be used for your

project proposal, you assure that your

readers will use whatever special

equipment required to do the job properly.

• If part of your proposal is to request the

equipment, tell your readers what you

need to acquire and why.


• People who read or listen to your

proposals have several reasons for

wanting to know the schedule of your plan.

• The most common way to present a

schedule is to provide a schedule chart.

• The details of schedule charts will be

discussed in future lectures.


• When they are thinking in investing in your

project, proposal readers want to be sure

that the proposers have experience and

capability to carry out the project properly.

• For that reason, a discussion of the

qualifications of the personnel involved

with the project is a standard part of most



• When you propose a project that will

involve more than about four people, you

in crease the persuasiveness of your

proposal be describing the management

structure of your group.

• That’s because proposal readers know

that even qualified people cannot work

effectively if their activities are not



• When you propose something, you are

asking the readers to invest resources,

usually money and time.

• Naturally you need to tell them how much

the project will cost.

• In some proposals you may demonstrate

the reasonableness of the proposal by

also calculating the savings that will result

from your project.

In this lecture you learnt:

– When readers define the problem for you

– When readers provide a general statement of


– When you must define the problem yourself

– Objectives

– Product

– Method

– Resources

– Schedule

– Management

– Costs

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