Writing Persuasive Business Proposals
Course Leader: Clay Spinuzzi, Ph.D.
How do business proposals work, and how can they work better?
In this seminar, attendees will examine business proposals as persuasive arguments: they will take these proposals apart, examine their underlying components, and learn how to put them back together in ways that make them more effective. Using a proven methodology for developing these types of documents, attendees will generate basic proposal arguments to address a case study. This case study will allow students, working in small groups, to identify the problem presented in the case study; generate components of the proposal; analyze stakeholder dynamics; tie these complex elements together into a coherent, easily comprehensible argument; and outline a proposal based on this groundwork. Finally, the class will workshop applications to actual cases that attendees bring in.
After this seminar, attendees will be able to:
- Understand basic proposal structure and logic.
- Identify basic proposal sections and understand how they work together.
- Clarify and identify objectives.
- Develop a methodology for reaching the objective.
- Perform audience analysis by identifying stakeholders, investigating their concerns, and weighting criteria accordingly.
- Connect your team’s qualifications with the specific requirements implied in the situation and methodology.
- Develop structured benefits that address the situation.
- Tie these complex elements into a coherent argument.
- Learn how to rework an ill-defined problem into an effective proposal.
- Pour all this information into a basic proposal format.
The proposal-writing methodology used in this seminar was developed for large consulting agencies, but it can also apply to other sorts of proposals and reports in a variety of organizations.
Dr. Spinuzzi is an associate professor of Rhetoric and Writing at UT Austin. He has presented at industry conferences, including SXSW, and recently led a SXSW core conversation on communication in distributed workplaces. His research focuses on how organizations circulate and coordinate information to solve complex problems. Spinuzzi’s books include Tracing Genres through Organizations, a study of database use at the Iowa Department of Transportation (named the NCTE 2004 Best Book in Technical of Scientific Communication), and Network, a study of a rapidly changing telecommunications company.