Communication Plan Checklist
1. Start Early
Developing a Plain English RFP takes time. For your first
Plain English proposal, allow extra time to write, edit, and revise. Add more time than
you would expect to your usual schedule if possible.
2. Study the principles of Plain English
Remember: you want your request for proposal to be
understood in one reading. This means you need to:
- Identify your target audience i.e. Government departments.
- Consider what they need to know.
- Consider the technical terms they may, or may not, know.
- Develop plain English writing guidelines for your staff.
- Think about how to organize and format your RFP.
3. Promote Plain English amongst your Staff
Once youve seen the benefits of plain English
compared with other writing styles, you can promote its values to your own staff and
senior management. You need to get your staff onside so that they will begin writing in
this style. Likewise, you also need to convince your managers of its values and possibly
funding for a training program. Explain to both camps how they will benefit. Outline a
high-level roadmap with timelines for the overall program.
4. Contact an experienced proposal writer
The first time you write a plain English proposal, you
may find it time-consuming and more difficult than you thought. If this is the case,
youre on the right track! Everything worthwhile is difficult the first time round
soon you will get the hang of it.
You can also approach a writing consultant, especially
someone who has a proven track record of writing good, clear English.
5. Review previous RFPs and see where you can improve
Before you start writing, consider the following:
- Literacy level. What level of education is required to
understand the RFP? Use the Fog Index to test your proposals readability.
- Clarity. What parts of the RFP are hard to understand? Are
the sentences too long and complex? Does it use technical terms and acronyms that the
target audience will not understand?
- Organization. How easy can you find relevant information?
Would the RFP be clearer if you reordered the main sections and possibly the sub-sections
within it? Does the table of contents and index need sharpening? Are there too many/too
few levels of information in the TOC.
- Repetition. Is the same information repeated in several
sections? Does it have any real benefit?
- Headings. Should the headings be re-written in the form of
questions that each section answers?
- Format. Do you need to add more bullet-point lists? Put
keywords in bold? Use more white space?
6. Create an outline to help readers find information faster
One very effective writing style is to write headings
as questions, which each section answers. If you include sub-sections, use a numbered
outline format (e.g. 1.2, 1.3) for the section headings. This helps the reader find the
main sections quickly and see the relationship among subsections.
7. Write the RFP, section by section, using plain language techniques
If some sections are hard to write, read them aloud and
see where they are difficult to understand. Go through the document section by section.
Write the first draft of key sections first, and then
work on the inside sections. Once youve written these, refine the text by editing
each section tightly. However, make sure your text does not become too cold and dry. Write
as if you were speaking to a colleague whom you respect; this often helps control the tone
of the document.
8. Review and Revise
Once youve finished the first draft, get it
reviewed internally by colleagues who can add value to the review process. Dont
choose colleagues who are too close to the RFP, as they will not see errors. Instead, get
a neutral reviewer if possible. After getting the feedback, make the required edits.
If possible, ask volunteers from the target population to
review the draft RFP. Ask them if they can
locate information easily. When interviewing ask open questions and you will get a better
Avoid closed questions, such as, is this a great RFP?
Most will say Yes, just to please you and make you go away!
Ask how much they could read in one sitting. Again,
revise as needed.
9. Create an easy-to-read format
Format the document to make it easy to read and
attractive in presentation. If you have time, prepare a template that can be re-used for
all future RFPs. This will reduce the time spend on preparing the document.
- Leave a blank line between paragraphs
- Use bulleted lists
- Highlight main points with bold and italics
- Use boxes for examples
- Use white space generously
- Include margins of at least one inch all around the page
- Use two (2) columns to increase readability, if practical
Use several different type sizes for headings. In many
documents, the headings are in San Serif font (i.e. Verdana) and the body is in a Serif
font (e.g. Times New Roman). Use a contrast in style to add emphasis.
10. Get feedback and share it
Lastly, see if the RFP works!
Ask the external reviewers how they felt using the
new plain English RFP. Get feedback from personnel involved in the review
process and collate it for distribution.
- Did they find that the plain English RFP made a better
- Was it easier to write the application, and what made the most
- What worked and what needs more refinement.
Summarize what you learned and share this information
with colleagues. Encourage them to try writing plain English RFPs.
Track Your Proposal Wins
Keep a record of all the RFPs written in plain
English and see if their success rate is higher than the previous styles of writing.
Download Now for only
$19 - Buy Here!