9 Best Practices to Prepare for Oral Government Proposals

Oct 10, 2022

If you have been closely watching the Federal market, you may have noticed that oral presentations are becoming a more common requirement in Government proposals.

An oral proposal is simply a proposal or part of a proposal delivered orally in place of or in addition to a written proposal. Oral proposals are like job interviews for your company, moving you from the short list of qualified vendors to the bid winner. It is becoming increasingly important for government contractors to have a process for oral proposals.

So how can you prepare for this new reality? It requires teamwork, training, and, most of all – practice. This blog examines some best practices associated with oral proposals to help you position yourself better in light of this emerging trend.

Why Oral Proposals?

Oral proposals are an opportunity for the government to evaluate your solution through the prism of “the people.” A presentation is an intimate way for evaluators to understand and assess your solution, as narrated by you in your own words. This has many dimensions, some of them being:

  • Evaluators often want to be sure that the key personnel knows the solution they are presenting and do they agree with the approaches presented in the written proposal. Oral presentations augment the agency’s understanding of your written proposal.
  • Evaluators often want to ensure that the proposed personnel work together as a well-collaborated team since these efforts require both qualified personnel and a long-term coordinated effort.
  • A presentation-based explanation of your solution is more immediate and less remote than a written proposal. It invokes feelings of trust, confidence, believability, and other human parameters. Many evaluators think, “Do I want to work with this team of people?”. Oral proposals make this easier for them in many ways.

What are the Best Practices to Prepare for Oral Proposals?

There are various best practices for developing and presenting oral proposals. These include but are not limited to presentation slide development, support for scripting the presentation, presenter coaching, extensive Q&A practice, and rehearsal sessions that must be scheduled and conducted according to a demanding timeline. A customer-focused presentation, clear and focused visuals, persuasive and compelling presenters, and a compliant submission can help you deliver a winning oral proposal presentation.

  • Plan before you start preparing your presentation: Planning is just as vital in oral proposals as in written proposals. The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) recommends that the following steps be taken when planning your oral proposal:
    • Identify time limits
    • Gain an understanding of the setting and occasion of the presentation
    • Analyze the bid request in detail
    • Create a compliance checklist
    • Incorporate the winning strategy into your oral proposal
    • Retain an orals coach as part of your proposal team

Conducting a final dress rehearsal with the entire team before the presentation is advisable. This allows each speaker to sharpen their persuasive message and deliver their presentation effectively.

  • Get an Expert on Board: Even though your team may have knowledgeable people, they may not be experts in oral presentations. APMP recommends engaging a qualified orals coach to prepare your team using formal training. Public speaking experts and presentation coaches can help proposal teams deliver effective and persuasive oral presentations.
  • Select the Presenter: Generally, the agencies will inform the offerors whom they would want as the primary presenter. If not mentioned by the agency, APMP recommends that the Proposal Manager or another leader facilitate the oral presentation.
  • State, Support, and Summarize: APMP recommends a “Triple-S” formula to plan oral presentation content: state your points, support them with evidence and proof points, and summarize each main point with a value proposition.
  • Use Visuals: Thoughtfully constructed visuals leave a powerful effect on evaluators. Graphics, figures, and visuals help readers remember critical messages, particularly after a series of oral proposals presented on one mind-numbing day or several days apart. Depict your key strategies graphically to give the audience an overview of your solution. Review the evaluation criteria and customer hot buttons, create graphics that paint a compelling visual story, and prove your performance. Identify project risks and visually present risk mitigation approaches.
  • Select the Presentation Style, Content, Length, and Media: Offerors must always choose a simple, executive summary-like presentation that explains the understanding of the customer’s needs, the offeror’s solution, its benefits, and key features. Think about your audience first – use a customer-focused structure to develop presentations. Use verbal as well as non-verbal messages – a winning delivery style incorporates non-verbal messages to reinforce your verbal messages. The time limit must also be considered, and the presentation should be detailed accordingly. It is always beneficial to explain the benefits of your solution in quantifiable terms and provide a more creative solution to the stated problem.
  • Use Non-Verbal Messages Effectively: It is essential to control your nonverbal messages, so they reinforce your speech. Focus on eye contact, body language, facial expressions, appearance and posture, movement and gestures, and voice projection and pauses. Do away with distracting movements, gestures, and monotonous delivery.
  • Prepare for Questions and Answers: Never come to an oral presentation session without preparing yourself for questions. Prepare for a Q&A session beforehand by preparing answers to anticipated questions. APMP recommends conducting multiple internal Q&A practice sessions. If you do not know the answer, admit it or defer to someone on your team.
  • Select a Theme and Organize the Presentation: It is recommended that customer service and a theme of trust should form the bedrock of the presentation. Offerors should try their best to gain the trust of the customer. This can be done by providing solutions to the customer’s hot buttons and examples from past contracts.

The strategy to ace an oral proposal is to start early and have a clear roadmap for preparation. We at iQuasar have a dedicated and experienced team to help you prepare for oral proposals as per RFP instructions and requirements. Our team will guide you through the process and help you with a wide array of Proposal Development services.

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