There’s so much that could go into a bid or tender it can be tough to know where to stop.
The problem with that is, all too often your team simply don’t stop and that quickly leads to the text being unclear and overly lengthy.
No doubt you can easily identify simple, concise bids and tenders when you read them, but can you objectively define what makes good bid writing?
The team assessing your bid or tender will be working under time pressure…
OK so your bid was only 50 pages long; but if there are 6 bidders, that’s a total of 300 A4 pages or about 200,000 words – half the length of War and Peace.
What’s more the assessors will also be concerned with legal challenge so they’ll be looking for sound-bites to justify the score they give you.
Writing in a clear concise and easy to understand way is absolutely essential for a winning bid or tender.
The assessors want simple concise easy to read text and almost certainly you can recognise what isn’t simple concise or easy to read.
What do you think of the following sentence?
“The Privacy Act of 1974 provides that each Federal Agency inform individuals, whom it asks to supply information, of the authority for the solicitation of the information and whether disclosure of such information is mandatory or voluntary; the principal purpose or purposes for which the information is to be used; the routine uses which may be made of the information; and the effects on the individual of not providing the requested information.”
US Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Or what about this?
“I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth century Shelley had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien [sic] to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate.”
Professor Harold Laski’s Essay Freedom of Expression quoted by George Orwell
Ok, so we’ve established that you can recognise when you read something that is not clear, concise and easy to understand.
However, the question still remains: Can you objectively define what makes good bid writing?
And, can you give your writers objective guidelines and principles to follow?
Well, now you can!
These 6 rules are to be applied during the editing stage not the writing stage.
- Never use a long word if a short one will do
- If it is possible to cut out words always do so
- Never use the passive when you can use the active
- Never use a technical term or foreign word if a plain English word will do
- Keep your sentences to an average length of 12 to 15 words
- Write so that a reasonably bright 16 or 17 year old doing a relevant ‘A’ level subject can understand
If you and your team follow these rules when writing you’ll be helping the assessor grasp all of the key facts in your bid or tender and, as a result, greatly improve your chances of success.