Workshop: Proposal Writing Your Week 2 writing task is to draft a short, internal, unsolicited email proposal (see the week 2 reading on Types of Proposals for a review of these terms). The proposal should be written with an awareness of potential secondary audiences (as discussed in reading) and thus should be accessible to both specialist and non-specialist readers. The goal of a proposal is to persuade readers with decision-making power to agree to a proposal or at least to follow-up discussion of the proposal. Short, internal, unsolicited proposals are written for many different purposes and audiences, and in many different contexts (professional, personal, community). Here are just a few examples of situations that are addressed through this kind of proposal writing: An employee requests authorization from a supervisor to purchase a new piece of equipment An employee asks fellow employees to agree to a system for ensuring that a shared area is kept safe, or clean. An employee proposes changes to a workplace dress code. A department head asks a division director for a permission to hire a new team member. A neighbor addresses fellow neighbors on the social media site Nextdoor with a proposal for addressing a community problem. A busy working mom proposes a new household policy. For your own Week 2 proposal, try to choose an authentic situation. Do you have ideas about how some situation or process might be improved? Maybe you want to propose some sort of change to colleagues at your current workplace? Or maybe you want to propose some sort of household management change? Be sure to select a specific problem within your actual sphere of influence. There should be at least the potential for your proposal to be agreed to by your target readers and implemented in a timely way. Remember that your proposal will not be addressed to the general public, but to a single reader or small group of readers capable of directly supporting or implementing your proposal. (Technical writing is, in this regard, very different from the kind of opinion-shaping proposal writing we encounter in news editorials or public speeches, for example.) Even if you don’t end up sharing your proposal with readers beyond this class, the act of writing it might help you better organize your thoughts for a future occasion. Writing that has direct relevance to our immediate lives is generally more rewarding than writing we do merely to practice for some point in the future. The Week 2 readings and some “walking around time” will likely lead you to an idea for your proposal. But if you can’t think of any “real” situation about which to write your proposal, that’s okay. You can instead write your proposal using a made-up scenario (this will require some creativity), or by adopting the persona of the author of one of these anonymously-submitted letters to advice columnists [doc format download]. As you develop your proposal, keep in mind key points from our readings. Proposal content specifications Your proposal should: Address a specific recipient or group of recipients. Remember, audience awareness is fundamental to effective writing. State the problem. While your reader/s may know the problem well, a full statement of the problem will help establish a shared understanding of the problem. Also, if the proposal is unsolicited, you will probably need to convince your reader/s that the problem, or opportunity for improvement, actually exists. Explain the proposal. Explain fully. It’s easy to get so absorbed in a description of the problem that the proposal itself is underdeveloped. The proposal should not be vague (“something ought to be done;” “management ought to do something”) but concrete and specific. State the objectives of the proposal and expected results if it is implemented. What will be achieved or gained if the proposal is implemented? Identify any requirements for implementing the plan. For example, does the plan require expenditures in time or money? Address alternative proposals or likely objections. (if applicable) Note: Treat your proposal as a real proposal, not a parody or verbal attack presented in the form of a proposal. Proposal design specifications: Length 1-2 pages (about 400-700 words) Layout and formatting Design your document for maximum readability. Assume your readers have many demands on their time. Make it easy for them to quickly read and understand your proposal.