by Sean Stevenson, Proposal Manager, EMCOR Government Services
PRICING Free for STC CHAPTER/SIG Members!
DATE Tuesday, 7 June 2016
TIME 2:00–3:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)
If you could slow proposal writing down, you’d notice it’s not so different from technical writing. You work on a team with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to produce a heavily structured piece of writing. The problem is it’s not slowed down. Furthermore, if you’re in a large organization you are rarely thrown into the proposal writing process at the beginning; you’re thrown in the middle.
The objective for our work together is to provide context for when it happens to you. Learn the different phases of proposal writing. If you need to assist some engineers to prepare for Red Team, learn what that means (prepare to work!). Learn the different sections of a government RFP: Section L, Section M, and so on.
Be compliant! Set up a document based on the instructions in Section L. See what else needs to be addressed in the evaluation criteria (Section M). Experience in technical communication ensures you will know if a legitimate approach to a problem is in the text you received. Additionally, your SMEs have great ideas that may or may not be what the government is asking for. Use your skills as a reader to see if what is on the page answers the spirit and the letter of the RFP. Use your writing skills to edit and rearrange your text to clearly map to the requirement.
Know your boundaries. Know when you need to talk to the proposal manager. Hundreds of pages turned around in thirty days also lends itself to the “80% Solution.” Know when to stick up for quality and when it needs to get out the door.
Sean Stevenson, President of the Washington, DC-Baltimore chapter of STC, is a technical communicator working in business development. He started as a creative writer who taught writing on the side. He worked at the Writers Guild trying to support himself, and realized eventually that he needed a career, not just a means to support himself. In 2008, he took a job at Northrop Grumman in Maryland as a Technical Editor and spent five years there. Over time, he found his way into business development and in 2013, took a job as a proposal manager at EMCOR Government Services in Arlington, VA. Sean has an MFA in playwriting from the Actors Studio Drama School and a B.A. in Humanities from the University of Chicago. He teaches yoga in his spare time and wants to teach English as a Foreign Language again.