Successful strategic planning efforts help an organization view its future over a specific planning horizon. The Balanced Scorecard Institute states that “effective strategic planning articulates not only where an organization is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful.” In a commercial enterprise, buy-in from employees and stakeholders follows thoughtful dialogue, but ultimately becomes the organization’s vision by executive decision. In a collaborative enterprise, typically a non-profit, buy-in is achieved through consensus and inclusion.
Whether creating a strategic plan for collaborative or corporate environments, a well written plan is key. Starting with a table of contents can help solidify the group’s thinking before diving into the plan itself. The table of contents does not have to be written in order; one might write the summary after delving into organizational detail, for example. A table of contents can guide the team in determining the timeline for strategic planning, due dates for content, and resource requirements to achieve the timeline.
Strategic planning hint: strategic plans tend to be lengthy documents. The goal is to produce a living document that continues to reflect organizational reality over the planning horizon. Choose to be succinct and eschew verbosity.
Request for Proposal and other solicitation types can help win significant business. Grants can provide significant funding. One common thread for RFPs and grants - these responses can be very time consuming and the requirements can be very specific. Key to a successful RFP or grant submission is determining which opportunities to pursue and how to differentiate your proposal from other submissions.
Successful RFP and grant submissions will weave that differentiation throughout the response document. It is important for the submission manager to coordinate sections created by different people and organizations into a cohesive whole.
Like strategic plans, a good starting point is to detail the submission contents. Unless otherwise specified by the RFP or grant instructions, your submission should present a consistent and professional look and feel through the use of fonts, colors, and styles. In addition to content, the final document should look like it was written by one person.
What do wedding toasts, business roasts, presentations, and speeches have in common? Content and delivery are critical to success. Some people are good at this and some people need help. Preparation, confidence in the material, and courage to stand up in front of an audience make for a great presentation or a great speech. The right words require the right delivery to match the occasion, whether formal or informal, sympathetic or celebratory, verbal or written.
When you are called upon to deliver a eulogy, make a wedding toast, or present a sales pitch, you must understand your audience. Know what they would view as appropriate as far as content and presentation length. One inappropriate joke or simply taking too much of your audience’s expectation of time length can ruin your speech or presentation.
Years ago, presentations were printed on transparencies for overhead projectors. In even earlier times, the transparencies were typed! Presenters needed to have the finished deck before getting on a plane, because last minute changes were problematic.
Now you can make changes up to the minute and present right from your phone. While convenient, presentations on the go can lead to un-edited and un-reviewed content. Last minute changes are great, but make sure the whole content and presentation style are consistent with your message.
PowerPoint and Keynote decks often reflect the presenter’s personal style, projected against organizational deck design and usage guidelines. How many lines per slide? Whether to use animations and fancy slide transitions? Which color schemes and fonts? The answers lie with the audience. Understanding your audience and the message you want to deliver will determine the style and content aspects of your presentation.
Have you ever attended a conference featuring a vendor fair? Walking up and down the aisles, I often ask what does this company do? I should be able to figure it out by their banners and signage. If not, move on to the next booth.
Websites are the online equivalent to a vendor fair. When a home page opens, the reader should be able to quickly understand what your organization does. If not, move on to some other site.
In this website, www.bonmot.us, the homepage states: “Welcome to Bon Mot, LLC | Professional Wordsmiths | Writing and Speaking Services for Businesses, Non-Profits, and Individuals”. Below the welcome is a call to action, highlighted in an orange button, “Request a Quote”. In formulating my homepage in this way, I’ve tried to answer three important questions. Who are you? What do you do? Where can I get additional information?
However your website is constructed, make sure that it provides a quick and easy answer to these three key questions.
Write what you know is basic advice for all writers. When writing for others, however, we are often contracted to write what we don’t know. We research the assignment, and through research, we can “know”.
When our children were in grade school, they were taught the “note card research method”, which has made them better lifetime writers. The note card research method is really quite simple, and helps organize thoughts into topics, topics into outlines, outlines into articles. It maintains citations and bibliographies. While the physical note cards themselves may become optional, the process that underlies the note card research method remains.
Try an Internet search on “note card research” for some great ideas to organize research and help you write what you know.