Use Words that are Short and Easy to Understand

When was the last time you utilized something? Seriously, honestly, have you ever said, “I’m going to utilize the hammer?” Or did you just use it? The fact is most of us ‘use’ things most of the time—until we write proposal content. Then, for some reason, we start ‘utilizing’ everything.

  • Why do we ‘commence’ when it’s just as easy to start?
  • Why do we ‘formally request’ when all we have to do is ask?
  • Why do we say ‘until such time as’ when until is sufficient?
  • Why do we say “persons” instead of people?

When you write proposal content, don’t use words you wouldn’t normally use in everyday life. It doesn’t make you sound smarter, it’s just the opposite. It makes your writing sound canned and pre-packaged, written by a lawyer, but not for the buyer.

When in doubt, trust the wise words of Mark Twain: “I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English…”

David Seibert is a professional salesperson and consultant for businesses that respond to formal procurements in non-federal markets. Dave publishes a comprehensive curriculum of online, self-paced proposal training classes, delivers onsite and online proposal training programs for dedicated proposal teams, and provides proposal and business development consulting services for businesses that want to improve their win rates. 

Dave is founder and president of The Seibert Group, a proposal consulting and training organization serving businesses that sell to other businesses, A/E/C firms, schools, and to state and local governments. Dave authored the popular proposal book, Proposal Best Practices, is active with the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), and is a member of the APMP Speakers Bureau. You can contact Dave at [email protected].

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