Writing and Preparing Effective Government Proposals


Sean Stevenson
Proposal Manager, EMCOR Government Services


Online Courses

Writing and Preparing Effective Government Proposals

29 March-3 May 2017 (Wednesdays) | Noon-1:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

The goal of this course is to be able to walk into a proposal at any stage and know what to do. Learn the different phases of proposal writing, and how writing proposals fits into the broader business development life-cycle. We discuss the fundamentals of government acquisition, and how to influence the government to choose your proposal.

The class tackles a sample Request For Proposal (RFP), with students generating products for all the proposal development phases: kickoff, pink team, red team, and delivery. Along the way, we explore how you can use your skills as a technical communicator and where you need to grow.

Technical communicators do an important job, but are rarely at the center of a company’s attention. Move to the center by winning new business. While this class is for all skill levels, it aims to be the first rung on the ladder to becoming a proposal management professional.

Session Descriptions

  1. Class expectations
  1. What we will cover
  2. Scope of assignments
  3. Course takeaways

b. What a techcomm professional brings to business development, what they don't, why do it, how it's complimentary to techcomm.

c. US Federal Contracting in a nutshell.

d. The Business Development life-cycle, including the Capture Process, the Business Case, and the Decision to Bid.

e. Assignment: write a paragraph why you want to take this class.

  1. Discuss the assignment
  2. Functions
  3. Proposal tools
  4. What you can do now
  5. What you can do soon
  6. Further on down the road
  7. The RFP response schedule
  8. Compliance
    1. How proposals are evaluated and scored
  9. Assignment: Read sample RFP sections L and M. Extra credit to read entire thing.
  1. Discuss RFP reading
  2. Parts of the RFP-Lettered sections
  3. Discuss sample RFP-Scope of work, it's a set aside-what does that mean? It's emphasizes some requirements and not others (staffing and personnel, etc.)
  4. The response- Technical, Management, Past Performance, and Price
  5. What to do with an RFP-Outline, Kickoff, and Shred
  6. Assignment – do an outline of the RFP. Extra credit, do a shred.
  1. Discuss outline/shred.
  2. Storyboards and mockups.
  3. Win themes
  4. Features and benefits
  5. Graphics
  6. What Pink Team assesses
  7. Assignment – create storyboards
  1. Discuss how Pink Team process went.
  2. Now we get to write
  3. Working with SMEs
  4. Work rhythm
    1. Standup meetings
    2. Wall walks
  5. Format of Ted Team
  6. What Red Team assesses
  7. Assignment – write a section.
  1. Discuss Red team assignment
  2. Red Team recovery
  3. Gold Team
  4. Compliance matrix
  5. Editing and Production
  6. Delivery
  7. Post delivery
  8. A career in business development – what happens next
  9. Conclusion


Sean Stevenson, Immediate Past President of the Washington, DC-Baltimore chapter of STC, is a technical communicator working in business development. He started as a creative writer who taught writing on the side, and eventually realized he needed a career, not just a means to support himself. In 2008, he took a job at Northrop Grumman in Maryland as a Technical Editor. Over time, he found his way into business development and in 2013, took a job as a proposal manager at EMCOR Government Services in Arlington, VA. Sean has an MFA in playwriting from the Actors Studio Drama School and a B.A. in Humanities from the University of Chicago. He teaches yoga in his spare time and wants to teach English as a Foreign Language again.

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