When it comes to the importance of using clear, concise language in a tender submission, Fergal McGovern, CEO of Visible Thread, doesn’t pull any punches. Using wordy language peppered with clichés and trite phrases, he says, is the ‘easiest way to sabotage an otherwise strong bid’. Here’s a selection of those he suggests you avoid at all costs.
Delighted to – This should go without saying. Use the space to say what you’ll do instead.
Are confident – Should there be any doubt? This phrase does nothing to help your case.
Pleased to – Damaging to your credibility and sounds subservient. Cut!
Anxious – Implies negative sentiment; change to ‘we are eager to’.
Irregardless – No such word. Use ‘regardless’ in its place.
World-class – Trite sounding and total waffle. Replace with something measurable or definitive.
Best-of-breed – Ditto.
Countless – Assessors will rightly assume this to be the fudge it is. Replace with definitive numbers.
Unique – Truly? Only use if you can provide solid evidence.
Uniquely qualified – Can you back this up? State actual qualifications instead and why they matter.
Seamless – Sounds like marketing boilerplate. Rephrase with evidence or drop altogether.
Never – Are you really you sure you want to make such an unequivocal claim? Consider rephrasing.
Expert – True experts are rare indeed. Instead, show evidence of expertise qualifications.
Unparalleled – Comes across as a trite claim and lacks credibility.
As appropriate – Far too woolly and non-specific. Instead, give clear examples of what you will do.
Bells and whistles – Truly awful and a waste of word count.
McGovern believes that wordy tenders full of trite phrases are, in part, due to a failure to build review time into the tender preparation schedule. You can take steps to avoid that pitfall by factoring a review into your timeline. And, while you’re at it, make it clear to contributors that the tender is a waffle-free zone.
McGovern points out that editing content is considered by many organisations to be easy; only being addressed – if at all – as an afterthought. But the fact is that editing is a real skill and takes time. If you’re serious about wanting to win and spotting useless terminology is not something anyone on your team can do, then securing the services of a professional tender writer to go through your bid with a fine-tooth comb may well be a very prudent investment indeed.