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How do your conversation skills and personality impact your proposal writing?

Proposal writing is not based on telling people things, it requires having a conversation in writing

When I’m working with people who are inexperienced writers and are struggling, I often tell them to not worry about style and just write conversationally. I’ve written on how to have conversations in writing before. 

See also:
Proposal Writing Tips and Techniques

Writing is easier when you’re not trying to sound like someone else or how you think something is “supposed” to sound. It’s easier to just drop all that and talk. Communicate. Make your points. 

But some people struggle with their conversation skills. And when people are engaged in a conversation, their personalities shine through. Some people are engaging and charismatic. Some people are matter of fact. Some people are academic. And when writing, some personality characteristics get amplified.

Some people panic at the idea of starting a conversation with a stranger. And when you ask them to do it in writing, they just freeze. Starting a conversation in writing for a proposal is easier than doing it in person. The customer has already told you what they want to discuss in the RFP.

But I suspect that all people can improve their proposal writing by just spending some time thinking about conversation. What makes for a good conversation? Should you be direct? What tone should you set? Do you give the other person a chance to share their thoughts? How do you not come across as a know-it-all?  How do you steer a conversation without forcing it? 

When writing a proposal, you should have a content plan that tells you what points you’d like to make. The next step is to turn them into prose. That’s where your conversation skills and personality kick in. Don’t present the points you are trying to make. Don’t talk past the reader or make it a monologue. Instead, just talk like you would to someone you know. And be considerate.

Being considerate doesn’t mean being polite or formal. It means considering their point of view. Show a little empathy. What might the reader say if they were there? What questions might they have? What are they trying to accomplish? What can you suggest to help them?

Your personality will play a role, whether you realize it or not. Are you an empathetic person? Or has that never really been a concern of yours? Are you hyper focused or hyperactive? Do you value conversation skills or are other things more important to you? 

The way your personality shows up when you are having a conversation will impact how you write. The solution doesn’t have to involve changing your personality. But improving your conversation skills will help.

You don’t have to be different from who you are to write well. You don’t have to write like someone else. You just have to communicate what’s in the proposal content plan. If you freeze when trying to write that, try speaking it out loud. How would you say it if the customer was sitting across the table from you?  If that makes you freeze up even more, then the issue might be your conversational skills as much, or even more than, your writing skills. 

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More information about "Carl Dickson"

Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing, with more than 30 year's experience. He's written multiple books and published over a thousand articles that have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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