Allaland

Discover the 3 proven secret-weapons for writing great conference proposals (Part 3)

Posted on: October 31, 2011

Weapon #3: Readability

In the past few lessons you learned how to nail down your focus and create a catchy headline. Now learn how to add impact and readability to your proposal.

We all work to make our designs more usable, so why are we still creating unreadable proposals filled with big, unbroken blocks of text?

Wrap up your proposal with a beautiful bow by improving the readability of your content.

Step 1: Break Up the Blocks 

Put your usability skills to use to improve the readability of your proposal.

Start by breaking up your sentences. Sentence length should vary because uniformity might look nice but to our minds it also looks boring.

You should also break up your paragraphs. For proposals, paragraphs should have no more than 2 sentences before breaking to a new line.

If you really want to have an impact, use a single sentence in its own paragraph.

Bam. Just like that.

This results in writing that is much more memorable.

Next, utilize the skills you already know about writing for the web such as:

  • Using bullets and numbered lists, especially in the takeaways section of your proposal
  • Use subheads to let readers know what to expect
  • Bold subheads and important text to guide the readers eye to the important points

Ready to see an example in action? Yeah, I thought so.

Step 2: Follow the Example

First, look back at all the posts that I have written for this series to date and notice how I utilized readability principles.

Next, check out the proposal that I submitted for the IA Summit last year:

Take a moment to sit quietly and listen to a conversation between designers. What do you hear? Debates over design changes; thoughts and discussions on recent user testing; possible interaction solutions for the best possible experience. While specific discussions and experiences may vary there is a common issue facing designers across all sectors and cultures; an issue that this profession has been struggling with since the beginning – getting stakeholder buy-in. Whether it’s the use of a specific tool to help define a given end state or trying to shift a rigid process to a more flexible and creative solution, designers seemingly have to battle more often than not to get support for their approaches and solutions to both small and large scale design issues.

We believe that empathy, patience, and communication are the key to getting stakeholder buy-in. Luckily, designers are already well equipped for this task! This talk will help designers sharpen their communication skills by providing 1) essential business frameworks from strategy leaders Stephen Covey and Charles Krone; and 2) conflict resolution and assertion techniques such as fogging, broken record, and negative assertion found in behavioral psychology.

Oh boy, look at all those blocks of text!

Here is what it looks like after I format it for readability:

Take a moment to sit quietly and listen to a conversation between designers.

What do you hear?

Debates over design changes; thoughts and discussions on recent user testing; possible interaction solutions for the best possible experience.

While specific discussions and experiences may vary there is a common issue facing designers across all sectors and cultures; an issue that this profession has been struggling with since the beginning – getting stakeholder buy-in.

Whether it’s the use of a specific tool to help define a given end state or trying to shift a rigid process to a more flexible and creative solution, designers seemingly have to battle more often than not to get support for their approaches and solutions to both small and large scale design issues.

We believe that empathy, patience, and communication are the key to getting stakeholder buy-in.

Luckily, designers are already well equipped for this task!

This talk will help designers sharpen their communication skills by providing:

  1. Essential business frameworks from strategy leaders Stephen Covey and Charles Krone
  2. Conflict resolution and assertion techniques such as fogging, broken record, and negative assertion found in behavioral psychology.

 

See the difference and impact?

Additional editing of the proposal could have cut down the sentence length and made it even more readable.

One trick copywriters use is to eliminate fluff and cut words in a sentence until removing any more words would change its meaning. So you are writing your proposal, constantly ask yourself: “Does this paragraph/sentence word help me get my point across?” If not, then cut it.

This post wraps up the last part in the series on how to write a good conference proposal. Best of luck to everyone!

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1 Response to "Discover the 3 proven secret-weapons for writing great conference proposals (Part 3)"

Thanks Alla.
I have referred your postings and submitted a proposal for the IA Summit.
– Param.

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Alla Zollers

I design products and services that just. make. sense.

When products make sense, customers are happy.

If customer are happy, they sign-up, stay on site, engage, share, and buy your product or service.

Happy customers allow companies to profit in both senses of the word.

I provide the following services:

• Heuristic Evaluations
• Discovery Research
• Strategy and Vision Development
• Information Architecture
• User Experience Design
• Usability Testing

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