WRITING BETTER PROPOSALS—PROJECT-ON-A-PAGE

We encourage our clients to develop their proposals or tenders around an easy to understand summary called a project-on-a-page. It aims to distil the narrative into a simple visual. There are a lot of ways of creating them varying from highly technical to abstract.

The human brain is said to process images 60,000 times faster than text (although the source of this fact appears elusive). However, a recent neuroscience study found that the human brain can process images seen in as little as 13 milliseconds—just over 1/100th of a second. It is clear that visuals help us to understand concepts much more quickly than text.

Therefore, it is important to use graphics in formal and technical documents to help readers better understand the ideas and concepts being put forward.

The project-on-a-page takes this one step further in attempting to summarise the whole project and narrative on to one page. When it is achieved it is a very powerful way to communicate your message simply and with great clarity. There are different approaches.

PROJECT ON A PAGE—GRAPHS AND TABLES

In technical (and particularly scientific) writing where the audience understands the material, a series of graphs and tables can make relationships and correlations very clear. An example of this is the recent IPCC report on climate change that uses a lot different graphical methods to indicate trends in climate change.

PROJECT ON A PAGE—MAPS

Maps are an established way of showing concepts relating to geography. We have all seen maps coloured to show climate, rainfall, and topography; but they can be used to show logistics, migrations, and geopolitics.

PROJECT ON A PAGE—WORKFLOW CHARTS

In business writing and information technology, workflow charts are used to show the tasks and decision making pathways. They can make complex decision processes easy to understand.

PROJECT ON A PAGE—STAGED DRAWINGS

In construction projects, drawings are often used to show how a building project changes over the timescale of the project. The images can vary from illustrations by an architectural artist to computer generated animations style images.

PROJECT ON A PAGE—INFOGRAPHICS

One of my favourite methods of creating a project-on-a-page is using infographics. This style of electronic illustration has been growing in popularity over the last decade or so. Infographics get their name from combining information and graphics into exciting pictorial images. There is no real boundaries on how they can be used—imagery, illustrations, data visualisations (like pie charts and bar graphs) maps, numbers and symbols can all be used to present and link ideas (the image shows a creative commons infographic on how laws are made in the US).

Creating a project-on-a-page involves a team effort led by a communications consultant that can help translate the technical material generated by content experts into concepts to be realised by a graphic designer.

If you are interested in developing something like this for your projects or proposals, please contact us.

Author Tim Entwisle runs Madrigal Communications, a Sydney-based communications consultancy. He loves blogging and enjoys reading. He has a large library of books which he still believes have not been made redundant by the web. He blogs on words, on business, on tenders and on other topics for clients.