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Introduction- dealing with irritable people.

Imagine that I am an unpaid lay member of the panel. There have been N submissions (could easily be 6+) and as always I have received them on the weekend before the Monday presentation. This is my Rugby International weekend and I want a slow breakfast first. So DON’T MAKE ME ANGRY!

Five disciplines to help ensure the documentation reinforces the bid rather than irritating the readers.

  1. Make every part of the submission self sufficient.
  2. Ensure they are easily accessible.
  3. Use clean language.
  4. Ensure high quality consistent presentation values.

Establish a generic and brilliant capability statement.

1. Self Sufficient: every publication should have an:

Introduction that explains the context, the project, the purpose of this paper Executive Summary which highlights the key points being made in the paperPanel member:

“When I picked up these pre qualification documents, I have no idea what the project is, its key features, or any lead through into what parts of the paper are especially important.”

Ensure that all project references include size (square meters), value (£ or $), highlight their special features and are relevant to the project.

2. Accessible Always number the pages

Panel member “I want to be able to cross reference easily, to make notes easily…, which page is this?”Always attribute photographs, make them relevant and both brilliant, upbeat and consistent.
Panel member, “Yours is the 6th proposal I’ve read, which photograph is this meant to be, why are you showing me this section of a roof, I want a college laboratory not a bridge, why is this photograph so dowdy, black and white…”

Ensure the grammar/spelling references are checked.
Panel member, “This is a rushed job, spelling mistakes, poor grammar, what does that sentence mean?” “You’re referring to Section 7.2. but there isn’t one!”

3. Clean Language

Always be positive, always use common parlance Anglo Saxon. If you have to employ an unusual piece of nomenclature (e.g. “biomes”), then make a virtue of it; explain how you have been so original/innovative that you have to use an unusual word.

Avoid all “archebabble” or professional jargon, as in

  • Emblematic ( often misspelled “emplematic”!)
  • Structural legibility
  • Spatial clarity
  • Domain (whether public or private)
  • Realm (of any sort apart from Royal)
  • Iconic

Nothing “benefits” from natural light, unless you want to be a boutique estate agent in Stroud!

4. Presentation Documentation

You have to agree and then work to a specific discipline overseen by the BDU, appraised and changed only when justified. A great deal of this will already be in hand, it’s the detail that needs attention.

All photographs need to be bright, glossy, distinctive, attributed, and in the main, a little larger than holiday snaps.

Always use the same type face through out except for obvious enclosures from other firms, agencies, etc.

Always put the Firm’s full address and contact numbers on the back cover.

Always combine the coloured text/type face to meet your house style. If you don’t have one then employ a graphic designer quickly. Subtle design can give otherwise exhausting text a lift and accessibility that adds real value.

Always put a relevant photograph on the front cover that tells the story.

Always accompany key reference projects with sketch designs.

Whenever possible, add sketch designs to the presentation.


The Generic Capability Statement

Most of the documents I have read have a different Capability Statement. Design a definitive version, structure and set up. This is a core piece of writing, common to every publication and should prove quickly and with illustrations the mission statement of the firm.

Start with the mission statement.

Illustrate each main theme with a photograph, design drawing, and brief write up that clearly describes the achievements of the building in the eyes of the owners and investors. The definitive version – it needs final agreement and will then be used, changing very slowly over time to reflect the development of the practice. All changes will be agreed with the CEO and will then become the new definitive statement .

As part of the presentation, have some one deputed to edit for banalities, and patronizing platitudes and clichés.

“We have a reputation for delivering buildings on time.”
“We are familiar with the historic city of Oxford.”
“This is an important project for New York”

Instead replace them with client quotes throughout the proposal that underpin your special strengths.

Always have a coloured smiling head and shoulders, sunny photograph of each CV member and one of the team as a whole.