And Don’t Forget the Proposal Graphics!

Too many proposals have poor graphics, insufficient graphics, or in some cases, no graphics at all.  This is a problem because graphics should be an important element of persuasion in your proposal.

Graphics are far more than entertaining diversions.  Done well, they can help reviewers quickly understand your major points and win themes.  We know from considerable research that good proposal graphics that are integrated into the text significantly increase understanding.  This is true both for visual and non-visual learners.  The cliché – that a picture says a thousand words – happens to be true.

According to Beth Wingate of the Lohfeld Consulting Group, there are six guidelines that you should incorporate into your proposal development process.  To create good proposal graphics:

  1. Once you know what you are trying to communicate, start with a complete detailed graphic, either hand-sketched or computer generated, and remove as much detail as possible without obliterating the main message.  Simple graphics are better.
  2. Do not worry about generating complete graphics on your first try.  You probably will develop many graphics that you do not use in your proposal.
  3. Be creative with your graphics.  Find different ways to express your major points.
  4. Focus on the what, how, and why of the graphic and make sure that your graphics express what is in your text.
  5. Understand your graphics from the evaluators’ viewpoint.  The graphic must explain itself.  Unfortunately, too many graphics are developed for authors or Subject Matter Experts.  This is a challenge you must overcome or your graphics will fail to convince.
  6. Keep all you graphics within a vertical format to follow the text.  This will make layout and desktop publishing much easier and enable you to conform to the proposal page count.

Mile Parkinson of the 24 Hour Company has another piece of sage advice for developing graphics that you should follow.  First write the action caption and then develop the graphic based on it. 

Every graphic should have an action caption that makes a major point.  Starting with the action caption will help you create a graphic that communicates something essential to the evaluator.

Take your graphics seriously, write good action captions, and you will produce a more persuasive proposal.

 

1 Comment

  1. Todd Rudy
    August 23, 2012

    Great post, Jayme. Another point worth mentioning is to *hire a professional*. I have seen too many proposal managers either create shoddy graphics using PowerPoint, or try to reuse old low-resolution graphics that in a preious document were half a page, but when inserted into a new proposal as a full-page graphic simply don’t have the quality necessary for a professional document. I say, when in doubt, remake the graphic.

    Reply

Leave a Reply