When putting together a winning tender it’s easy to get so caught up in what you want to say that you forget that how you present your case is just as important in favourably impressing the assessment panel. Your tender or proposal could be one amongst hundreds, so making good use of images and graphics will help get your points across.
Our brains are naturally receptive to colour, form and shape; it’s a kind of instant attraction which far outweighs any pull we may feel towards reading a solid block of text. So whilst it’s true that many executives simply won’t have time to read your entire proposal, they will skim-read charts, diagrams, pull out boxes and infographics because they’re easy to digest and catch the eye.
One school of thought says that text should only take up about 60% of each page; the remainder should include a well-placed and clearly labelled image or an informative graphic. For example, if you’re making a claim of a reduction in cost or time, quantify how great that is by illustrating it with a ‘before and after’ or comparison graphic.
To make best use of images and graphics, always introduce them in the paragraph before by way of a benefit statement. For example, ‘The following graph demonstrates the dramatic increase in crop yield just 12 months after applying Growth Spurt, saving the co-operative the costs of shipping in fodder for the first time in 10 years.’ Your clear graphic inserted below will then illustrate your point beautifully.
Where possible, try and position your chart or photograph so it sits comfortably on the page. Ensure the introductory statement and the image can be seen together and are not separated by a page break. And, if you’re thinking about simply including a list of figures, consider how much more meaningful and easily digestible those figures will come across if you use a pie-chart instead.
But above all, graphics of any kind need to be easy to understand. Inserting an image without an explanatory label is unforgivable, as is reproducing a graph with key text so small as to require a magnifying glass. Equally, the random scattering of non-captioned photographs throughout a document does nothing more than make the document longer; they certainly won’t convey any useful meaning to the reader.
If you find yourself agonising over which colourful representation of your performance to include where, wait until you’ve finished the first draft. Then go back and identify what main points could be conveyed more easily by use of a well-chosen photograph or a clear graphic or chart.
Clever and well considered use of images and graphics can make a lot of information easily accessible and rapidly understood – and that’s exactly what you want.