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#TuesdayTutorial: What to Include in Your Proposal

#TuesdayTutorial: What to Include in Your Proposal published on 14 Comments on #TuesdayTutorial: What to Include in Your Proposal Login Help videos are free to Virginia Tech students with your VT.EDU login. Start at the VT.EDU login page to access these resources.

For your #TuesdayTutorial, I’m sharing a series of videos on that goes over the different parts that make up a proposal. Altogether, the videos will take 28m53s of your time. The videos include information all of the following sections:

  • Overview of proposal parts (4m40s)
  • Prefatory parts (5m28s)
  • Body parts (5m7s)
  • Ending parts (4m31s)
  • Appended parts (4m22s)
  • Visuals (4m45s)

Log in to see the video series. A preview is below:

Writing a Proposal
by Judy Steiner-Williams


In the midterm evaluation, some class members said that the comments on the Daily Discussion Posts were often redundant. To help make the comments more original, I am adding some specific questions that you can respond to.

After watching the videos in the series, read through the comments to see what others have already said. It’s your responsibility to add something new to the discussion. Think of comments like class discussion: You wouldn’t repeat what others in class said in a classroom, so don’t repeat ideas in our online discussion. Aim to say something new.

Here are some discussion starters to inspire your comments:

  • What one piece of advice from the videos stood out to you as good (or bad) advice, and why?
  • If you have written or used a proposal in an internship or job, how did the proposal in the workplace compare to the advice in the videos?
  • Choose one of the sections of a proposal and a specific audience of readers. Tell us how you would customize the section for that specific audience. For example, what would you include in the prefatory parts if your readers were potential new clients who were unfamiliar with how your company works?
  • An elevator pitch is a short, oral kind of proposal. If you only had one to two minutes to persuade someone to follow your recommendation, which part of a proposal would you include, and why?
  • What parts would you leave out of your elevator pitch proposal, and why?
  • Visit the Search page on the U.S. Grants website. Find a grant that relates to your career field, and compare the information on the sections required for the grant to those described in the videos. If you notice differences, talk about why the changes are there. Be sure to include a link to the grant you are discussing.

In addition to these specific questions, feel free to comment on anything else you noticed about the videos, just as you have in the past. You can also reply directly to someone else’s comments.




The amount of information thrown at me was a little overwhelming but two aspects that really stood out to me, a positive one and a negative one respectively, were think about who your audience is and even though videos and graphs/pictures are great in a proposal when submitting it electronically, if there are too many of those, the bandwith could be annoying or the reader can get confused by all the statistical figures thrown at him. With this type of writing, there is a constant balance between writing an excessive amount of information in a jumbled way and breaking the information into parts so small it becomes choppy.

I found this Lynda video series to be super helpful at getting a better understanding about what all goes into writing a proposal. Advice that really stood out to me was from the video called Visuals. In this video it mentioned that in a proposal adding some visuals/graphics can help the information that you are trying to get out there, easier to comprehend. However, sometimes people when writing a proposal end up including too many visuals that don’t all need to be in there. So when including graphics in your proposal, you need to make sure that the visual is adding to the proposal rather than just being there to take up space.

I have never written a proposal before, however at my internship I have read through many. Before I would help design aspects of a roadway project, my boss had me read over the proposal that we submitted on that contract which we won. I was able to get an idea of what is included in a proposal. The information for this video series went along well with how the proposals at my internship were written. The only major different thing is that the company I worked for included professional biographies about the employees who would be a key part of the project.

I feel like if I had to give an elevator pitch in less than two minutes the part of the proposal that I would include the ending parts. In the Ending Parts video, it mentions how this part gives a condensed version of the whole proposal in a smaller section. Therefore, I would be able to hit key information points, however, I would not need to go into too much depth as I would for the body of the proposal. The part of the report that I most definitely would not include during a short elevator pitch is the prefatory parts because that is just an introduction and it doesn’t mention a lot of key information that would be very persuasive to talk about.

Hey Danielle, you make some great points but I have to disagree with not including the prefatory parts in an elevator speech. You are definitely write about forgoing table of contents, illustrations, title pages, etc. from the prefatory parts but I would absolutely include an executive summary. That is essentially your elevator pitch. The video says that it is sometimes the only thing that people will read so it can definitely make or break whether your proposal is accepted. I would emphasize the significance of the problem (which you would probably put in the introduction) and why addressing this problem is important. I would also include the financial cost of the proposal if it was a reasonable cost as I think an inexpensive solution is an attractive one. Alternatively, if I thought the cost sounded too high, I would not include it in my elevator pitch, but explain why it that amount in the body of the proposal.

And to add to your point about visuals, I think they are a great addition to a proposal if they make it easier to understand. I agree that they can be distracting but I think that is why its important to include strong captions that relate the illustration to your proposal.

One final question (for anyone really). As far as personal biographies for the proposal, can we use our own bio which we wrote for our first technical writing assignment earlier this semester? Assuming you choose a genre relative to your biography?

Great observation: “I would absolutely include an executive summary. That is essentially your elevator pitch.”

Certainly you can reuse your prof bio. That was part of the goal for that assignment: You’d either have something that you could use or that you could tweak a little and use.

Thanks for noting that “The only major different thing is that the company I worked for included professional biographies about the employees who would be a key part of the project.” That’s handy information for me to know since I have students write prof bios as the first assignment. Makes those bios seem even more useful to me.

If I only had two minutes to give an elevator pitch to convince someone to go through with my project or idea, I would focus mainly on the body parts of the proposal. The title, prefatory, and ending portions are just to keep the proposal more organized, and give an overall summary of what the proposal will be/what is was after it has been read. Additionally, visuals will not be useful in a elevator pitch. More specifically, I think the best parts to include in an elevator pitch is a 10 second explanation of the purpose of the project, then immediately go into why this project will be successful and who will benefit from it. For big companies money and ethics are a huge proponent to getting projects funded and approved. If you can throw out statistics about revenue gains, or sales increases, or groups of people that will benefit, and make the company look better, it would be hard for a CEO or project leader to not take a little more time later in the day to sit down, read the proposal, and go through it more. Also knowing the exact scope of the project, just in case the person you are pitching to asks a questions. That shows you are truly invested in the proposal, and have thought a lot about it.

An elevator pitch should contain the core of the proposal, all of the extra information provided in the proposal is to make the idea seem more viable, and logical, as well as have all the ideas organized and written down, so it can be referred to again.

I think visuals potentially have a place in elevator pitches in certain contexts where you’re able to use them. In the same way that they can communicate something that would require a lot of text, visuals can stand in for more verbose verbal communication. And beyond brevity, sometimes visuals can flat-out communicate better than words can. Design and vision come to mind as particular areas where this is often true.

Take for example a proposal to redesign the lobby of an office in order to make it more accessible. A computer-rendered photo of how the lobby could look would communicate what you are proposing better than words ever could. It communicates your design immediately, and instead of describing *what* you are proposing, you can spend all your time on arguing *why* it should be done.

I could imagine literally standing in an elevator with a stakeholder, handing them a render of my proposal for increasing lobby accessibility, and explaining how moving forward on it will enhance the company image and social capital. As we part ways, I could then offer a copy of the full proposal. Having held the photo in their hand for the duration of my pitch, the proposal has become more real in their mind, which builds emotional buy-in. A similar strategy is used by street marketers who give you hand outs while they talk to you. It takes advantage of a number of psychological characteristics and social norms.

I definitely agree with you that visuals can be helpful, but Mark is definitely correct in saying that money talks. The context is key for deciding what should be included in a elevator pitch. I think picking out what is most likely to stick in the mind of the person you are trying to persaude is most important. In the example of your office lobby, a picture is something that can simmer for days and walking through the lobby every day will remind the CEO or whomever of your proposal. But in some proposals, giving quick facts like “this will lower overhead capital costs by 10.6% annually” will allow the person a succinct but memorable summary of the proposal.

The advice that stood out to me as good advice was that all of the different sections are not required, but are used based on the content or the purpose of the report. Additionally, many companies or professions may have a set template of what to include in the report. I also liked the distinction that the videos set about goals and objectives. A goal is something that is more qualitative and cannot be measured, like “improving morale.” But an objective is something that can be measured. I would not have known the distinction between the two.

I think a distinction between the contents of the proposal in the video and in the civil engineering profession is the type of sections in a proposal. For example, the video described that most proposals do not include methods unless it is for research. However, a methods section would be applicable for a project proposal because it describes the methods that the team will use to construct the project. Also, there will be more technical information and CAD drawings, etc.

These specifics you give about civil eng proposals are important distinctions from the general proposal:
However, a methods section would be applicable for a project proposal because it describes the methods that the team will use to construct the project. Also, there will be more technical information and CAD drawings, etc.

All the information given in the Lynda videos gave us many input of choices to be applied in our proposal and I certainly agree with what the others have comment on this post but I personally think that the info about Introduction and Ending is actually very essential. Based on my own reading experience, both of these parts play quite a huge role in guiding me to understand more of the reading.

For example, when I am starting to read on a certain topic in a textbook I will always start with the intro first to make sure I got a head start on it. I personally like an intro that besides putting out the main points to be discussed they also gave out some situations or stories that would relate to a certain topic as it helps me to be more immersed in the topic even before reading. This is also suggested by the video when it suggested us to include a certain experience that we or any of our peers have with that specific topic of discussion.

The Ending part is quite familiar as we are always used to making summaries in writing before this but what stands out for me is the inclusion of an action plan which I think is quite handy especially for solicited proposals. I would certainly include that in my assignment by telling the professor briefly about my plans if my proposal for a certain type of writing is accepted as it would show how confident and prepared I am with the proposal.

The videos provide a detailed information of how a successful proposal. The video indicated that a memo is a type of proposal. At this point, a memo is the only type of proposal I have written. I have written memos in most of my classes and at my job as well. The information presented, such as executive summary, introduction, body parts, and ending, are key parts of a memo. The advice provided in the video gives more understanding of the how the parts have to be put together.
An elevator pitch proposal has to be short and precise. One only has few minutes to create an impression. It is more of a short executive summary where one has to put the most significant information together in order to impress whoever it is intended for.

The Lynda’s videos gave me a brief idea of how to write a proposal and how to make it better. I never write a proposal before. Actually, I do not know what the purpose of writing a proposal before I watched those videos. I need to learn this because when you enter a company, your company most likely will not teach you this. That is the reason why we need to learn it.

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