McGovern, CEO of Visible Thread, doesn’t pull any punches. He says that using trite words is the ‘easiest way to sabotage an otherwise strong bid’.
If tender writing is something you struggle with, here’s a selection of the words McGovern suggests you avoid.
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 are, in part, due to a failure to build review time into the tender writing schedule. If you’re a tender writer, you can take steps to avoid that pitfall by factoring a review into your timeline.
McGovern points out too that copy editing is considered by many to be easy; only being addressed – if at all – as an afterthought. Copy editors are regarded as being a commodity – easily disposed of if time and budget isn’t stretching.
In fact, good copy editing is a real skill and takes time. If you’re serious about wanting to win a tender or being one of Australia’s premier tender writers, securing advice from another professional tender writer or professional copy editor to go through your bid with a fine-tooth comb will be a very prudent investment.
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