How to Write Business Proposals

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					                                                       VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                                         (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

I. Communications Strategy

          Choose communication objectives / purpose
          Analyze needs and character of audience
                     One person or many?
                                  interdisciplinary?
                                  culturally or globally diverse?
                                  technically trained or not?
                     Audience knowledge / need for background information
                                  technical areas
                                  mathematical competency
                     Audience concerns
          Analyze project constraints (deadlines, page limits, facilities)
          Choose a communication strategy
                     Choose genre (report, proposal, procedures, etc.)
                     Choose appropriate combination of media
                     Choose a communication style (tone, persona, level of vocabulary)
                     Select content and overall organization
          Choose a research strategy
                     check internet resources
                     check print resources
                     write interview scripts, conduct interviews
                     draft a working bibliography (use Endnotes, RefWorks, etc.)

II. Communications Structure

          Construct logical explanations and arguments
                      Back up assertions with supporting evidence, reasoning, and/or authority
                      Use evidence that is accurate and credible
          Divide content into useful categories or "chunks"
                      Use conventional headings for academic articles
                                                       VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                                         (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

                     Signal categories with headings and/or topic sentences
          Preview ideas with overviews and introductions
                     Highlight key points
                     Show the "big picture" before details
                     Include technical abstracts or executive summaries
          Back up assertions with relevant, credible, accurate supporting evidence

III. Multifaceted Nature of Engineering Communications

          A. Written Communication

                      Organize ideas analytically (avoid narrative)
                                  Synthesize ideas
                                  Plan collaborative documents
                      Format document to highlight organization and show relationships
                      Choose appropriate genre and style (informal v formal, memo v report, etc.)
                                  Know and be able to write key technical genres: reports, proposals, procedures, specifications,
                                  technical descriptions, technical definitions
                                  Know and be able to write key business genres: reports, proposals, emails, letters, business
                                  plans, grant applications
                      Write with coherence and flow
                                  Write unified, well organized paragraphs
                                  Write unified, well organized sections
                                  Write organized, parallel lists
                      Integrate graphics and data with text
                      Get user (reader) feedback and revise
                      Give constructive feedback to other writers
                      Use language, numbers, and technical terms with precision
                                  Use simple, unambiguous language for global communication
                                  Use technical terms correctly
                      Revise paragraphs for conciseness
                                            VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                              (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

                       Eliminate repetition and irrelevant information
                       Decide what belongs in the body and what belongs in the appendix
          Revise sentences for clarity and conciseness
                       Use active/passive voice correctly
                       Eliminate wordy phrases, jargon, cliches
          Edit for correctness: spelling, punctuation, grammar
                       Edit for consistent voice in collaborative documents
          Use correct, sufficient citations

B. Electronic/Multimedia Communication

          Email
                       Choose appropriate tone
                       Use relevant subject lines and file titles
                       Organize content; use headings for long emails
                       Put key information first
                       Keep paragraphs focused and short
                       Use highlighting that will work on different email systems
          Voice mail
                      Limit length
                      Begin with main point
                      Repeat key information
                      Speak slowly and clearly
          Tele - and Video-conferencing
                      Check equipment compatibility in advance
                      Identify speakers
                      Present an overview
                      Get frequent feedback
          Internet / WWW / Electronic presentations
                      Create a web page, electronic document, or web survey
                      Generate and manipulate graphics files
                                             VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                               (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

                      Organize text and tables using hyperlinks

C. Graphical Communication

          Understand and evaluate tables and data graphics (e.g., graphs, charts, plots, maps, etc.)
                      Extract the correct meaning from tables and data graphics
                      Understand how a data graphic reflects author's purpose and practices in the discipline
                      Recognize effective and ineffective tables and data graphics
                      Identify presence and correct usage of best practices in tables and data graphics
          Use sketches, drawings, and photos effectively
                      Choose correct amount of detail to accomplish purpose
                      Label key areas and scale
                      Avoid distortion
                      Cite source; acknowledge manipulation of graphic or scale
          Construct useful tables and data graphics
                      Label key parts
                      Use accurate titles
                      Know major graphic types: scatter plots; bar charts; histograms; pie charts; Gantt Charts
                                   Know when to use a graphic v. a table
                                   Choose the right data graphic to make a point
                      Include all important data points
                      Highlight key area(s) of table or graphic (e.g., using color, circles, arrows, etc.)
                      Minimize ink; avoid unnecessary grid lines, legends, tables, formatting
                      Avoid distortion
          Integrate graphics with explanatory text
          Interpret and construct technical drawings and renderings


D. Oral Presentation and Interpersonal Communication

          Use effective presentation style
                                           VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                             (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

                     Face audience, not slides
                     Make eye contact
                     Avoid "uhm's" and "filler" words and phrases ("so," "right")
                     Avoid nervous pacing or unnecessary gestures
                     Highlight key points with hand gestures
                     Control pace
                     Speak clearly and with adequate volume
                     Avoid monotone
                     Do not block the screen
                     Answer questions directly
         Use effective slide design
                     Organize slides into a coherent whole
                     Signal key sections and transitions
                     Integrate headings, texts, and graphics
                     Avoid slide overload
                                  Use adequate font size
                                  Use animations sparingly
                                  Avoid too much variation in fonts or colors
                     Make presentation coherent from slide to slide
                     Make each slide coherent
                     Highlighting key points
                                  Use "talking" headlines - especially for slide presentations used as reports
                                  Use take-away boxes for highlighting also
         Prepare relevant handouts
         Listen actively

E. Mathematical Communication

         1. General mathematical and scientific communication skills
                                 VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                   (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

           a) Communicate with clarity and precision, both orally and in writing, scientific/mathematical
           ideas and relationships
           b) Correct usage in written and oral communication of scientific and engineering terminology,
           phrases and equations, particularly those elements learned in a classroom/lab setting (implies
                       i) Examples:
                                     1) Articulate statistical and probabilistic concepts
                                                 i) Mean, mode, standard error, standard deviation, etc.
                                     2) Use of logic/Boolean algebra
           c) Understand and use scientific/mathematical language, symbols, equations and visual
           displays such as tables, graphs, plots, figures and diagrams
           d) Communicate medical ideas to engineers and engineering ideas to the medically trained
           e) Show familiarity with and understanding of mathematical and scientific symbolism utilized
           by the biomedical engineering industry
           f) Show familiarity with and understanding of mathematical and scientific symbolism utilized
           in biomedical engineering journals/publications, including publisher recommendations and
                       i) Scientific constants and their respective symbols
                       ii) Symbolism specific to sub-specializations, e.g., indicial notation in continuum mechanics
           g) Demonstrate an ability to articulate mathematical and scientific concepts in their own words
                       i) Example: Gibbs Energy
                                     1) What is the Gibbs Energy?
                                     2) What is an expression for the Gibbs Energy?
                                     3) Under what conditions, and in what situations, should it be used?
           h) Deliver an oral presentation using slides that explains and summarizes with precision and
           succinctness, complex biomedical ideas and concepts
           i) Understand the difference between the layman’s definition of a scientific term and its technical definition
                       i) Examples: force, stress, strain, elasticity, work, heat
                                     1) Students must understand the conditionalized usage of these terms
           j) Show the ability to conduct and articulate estimations and orders of magnitude calculations.
2. Understanding and presenting scientific evidence
                                VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                  (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

           a) Understand the scientific method and use it correctly to come valid scientific conclusions
           based on experimental evidence
           b) Structure an argument by:
                       i) Selecting and using various types of reasoning and proof
                       ii) Triangulating evidence
                       iii) Persuading one's audience
           c) Understanding the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning in structuring an argument
           d) Formulate models and construct analogies that effectively communicate scientific ideas, including
                       i) Promoting a qualitative understanding before moving toward a quantitative understanding
                       ii) Establishing appropriate abstraction levels – e.g., starting generally
                       and becoming more specific.
                       iii) Having models draw upon analogies with which the audience is
                       familiar. (requires an awareness of the audience on the part of the
                                    (1) Example: Free energy landscapes used in protein folding and
                       iv) Understanding the robustness of the model
                                    (1) How applicable, flexible and extendable is the model?
                       v) Employing “simplicity” in model expression
                                    (1) For example, does it link intangible, difficult to grasp concepts
                                    with tangible, easily understood concepts?
                       vi) Recognizing equivalent expressions of the same concept
                                    (1) Is the model unique? Are there other equivalent models?
                       vii) Converting one possible representation to another equivalent representation

3. Understanding and verbalizing mathematical ideas

           a) The ability to segue from mathematical to verbal to graphical communication of key mathematical ideas

4. Understanding and presenting the relationship between science and mathematics

           a) Use scientific and mathematical language and symbolism to
           communicate perceived interrelationships between scientific and
                                 VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                   (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

           b) Express generalizations and analogies and formulate mathematical definitions
           c) Use connections among scientific and mathematical topics
           d) Use connections between science and mathematics and other disciplines

5. Presenting Information and Evidence with Visual Tools: Graphs, Plots, Tables, Diagrams, and Figures

           a) Understand the differences between a graphs/plots, tables, diagrams, and figures
           b) Understand and be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages
           or each type as a vehicle for communication
           c) Use sketches, drawings, and photos effectively
           d) Demonstrate the ability to select the appropriate visual tool
           (graph/plot, table, diagram, or figure) to communicate information
           e) Know major graphic types: plots, pie charts, bar charts, scatter plots, Gantt charts
           f) Understand and employ principles of graphical excellence, including
                        i) Labeling key parts
                        ii) Using accurate titles
                        iii) Highlighting key areas of the tables or graphics (using color, circles, arrows, etc.)
                        iv) Minimizing ink; avoid unnecessary grid lines, legends, tables
           g) Know and employ best practices in formatting, numbering, and
           captioning of tables, graphs/plots, diagrams and figures
           h) Understand and explain the power of using multivariate data
           i) Know the problems of scaling/distortion issues and how to avoid them
           j) Understand plots and their usage
                        i) Single and multiple regression
                        ii) Log-log and semi-log plots
           k) Understand statistical and probabilistic graphing/plotting and their usage
                        i) Normal and log-normal distributions
                        ii) Histograms
           l)    Understand and use basic graph theory
                        i)     Definition of a graph
                                     1) Nodes, edges, weights
                                                       VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a
                                                         (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006)

                                                        2) Decision trees
                                                        3) Graphical representation in 0,1, 2, 3, …, N dimensions
                                  m)   Understand and use figures appropriately
                                             i)    Appropriate use of physiological and medical schematics
                                             ii)   Appropriate use and presentation of sketches in drafting and prototype design
                                  n)   Understand and use diagrams appropriately to communicate general processes
                                             i)    Appropriate use of flow diagrams, process algorithm diagrams, etc.

a
    Acknowledgements:


The VaNTH Communications Taxonomy is indebted to the CDIO (Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate) Syllabus developed by the Aero-Astronautical
Engineering Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in collaboration with other CDIO partners (see www.cdio.org). The CDIO Syllabus
carefully considers the general competencies outlined by ABET and was developed over a number of years with significant input from industry.


The VaNTH CC taxonomy serves a similar purpose for a related audience—and thus has adopted structural categories and content from CDIO to allow for
easier collaboration by educators involved in both groups. However, the VaNTH CC reflects the research principles that guide the VaNTH Engineering
Research Center in Bioengineering and was written with the pedagogical principles outlined in How People Learn in mind (see Bransford, Brown, and
Cocking, 1999, and www.vanth.org).
1. General mathematical and scientific communication skills

  a) Communicate with clarity and precision, both orally and in writing, scientific/mathematical
  ideas and relationships
  b) Correct usage in written and oral communication of scientific and engineering terminology,
  phrases and equations, particularly those elements learned in a classroom/lab setting (implies
        i) Examples:
            (1) Articulate statistical and probabilistic concepts
               (i) Mean, mode, standard error, standard deviation, etc.
            (2) Use of logic/Boolean algebra
  c) Understand and use scientific/mathematical language, symbols, equations, and visual displays
  such as tables, graphs, plots, figures, and diagrams.
  d) Communicate medical ideas to engineers and engineering ideas to the medically trained
  e) Show familiarity with and understanding of mathematical and scientific symbolism utilized
  by the biomedical engineering industry
  f) Show familiarity with and understanding of mathematical and scientific symbolism utilized
  in biomedical engineering journals/publications, including publisher recommendations and
        i) Scientific Constants and their one-letter abbreviations
        ii) Symbolism specific to sub-specializations, e.g., indicial notation in Fluid Mechanics
  g) Demonstrate an ability to articulate mathematical and scientific concepts in their own words
        i) Example: Gibbs Energy
            (1) What is the Gibbs Energy?
            (2) What is an expression for the Gibbs Energy?
            (3) Under what conditions, and in what situations, should it be used?
  h) Deliver an oral presentation using slides that explains and summarizes with precision, yet
  succinctness, complex biomedical ideas and concepts
  i) Understand the difference between the layman’s definition of a scientific term and its
        i) Examples: Force, Stress, Strain, Elasticity, Work, Heat
            (1) Students must understand the conditionalized usage of these terms

2. Understanding and presenting scientific evidence

  a) Understand the scientific method and use it correctly to come valid scientific conclusions
  based on experimental evidence
  b) Structure an argument by
        i) Selecting and using various types of reasoning and proof
        ii) Triangulating evidence
        iii) Persuading one’s audience
  c) Understanding the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning in structuring an
  d) Formulate models and construct analogies that effectively communicate scientific ideas,
        i) Promoting a qualitative understanding before moving toward a quantitative
        ii) Establishing appropriate abstraction levels – e.g., starting generally and becoming
        iii) Having models draw upon analogies with which the audience is familiar. (requires an
        awareness of the audience on the part of the communicator)
            (1) Example: Free energy landscapes used in protein folding and docking studies
        iv) Understanding the robustness of the model
            (1) How applicable, flexible and extendable is the model?
        v) Employing “simplicity” in model expression
            (1) For example, does it link intangible, difficult to grasp concepts with tangible, easily
            understood concepts?
        vi) Recognizing equivalent expressions of the same concept
            (1) Is the model unique? Are there other equivalent models?
        vii) Converting one possible representation to another equivalent representation

3. Understanding and verbalizing mathematical ideas

  a) The ability to segue from mathematical to verbal to graphical communication of key

4. Understanding and presenting the relationship between science and mathematics

  a) Use scientific and mathematical language and symbolism to communicate perceived
  interrelationships between scientific and mathematical concepts,
  b) Express generalizations and analogies and formulate mathematical definitions
  c) Use connections among scientific and mathematical topics
  d) Use connections between science and mathematics and other disciplines

5. Presenting Information and Evidence with Visual Tools: Graphs, Plots, Tables, Diagrams,
and Figures

  a) Understand the differences between a graphs/plots, tables, diagrams, and figures
  b) Understand and be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages or each type as a vehicle
  for communication
  c) Use sketches, drawings, and photos effectively
  d) Demonstrate the ability to select the appropriate visual tool (graph/plot, table, diagram, or
  figure) to communicate information
  e) Know major graphic types: plots, pie charts, bar charts, scatter plots, Gantt charts
  f) Understand and employ principles of graphical excellence, including
        i) Labeling key parts
        ii) Using accurate titles
        iii) Highlighting key area of table or graphic (use color, circles, arrows, etc.)
        iv) Minimizing ink; avoid unnecessary grid lines, legends, tables
  g) Know and employ best practices in formatting, numbering, and captioning of tables,
  graphs/plots, diagrams and figures
  h) Understand and explain the power of using multivariate data
  i) Know the problems of scaling/distortion issues and how to avoid them
  j) Understand plots and their usage
        i) Single and multiple regression
        ii) Log-log and Semi-Log Plots
k) Understand statistical and probabilistic graphing/plotting and their usage
    i) Normal and log-normal distributions
    ii) Histograms
l) Understand and use basic graph theory
    i) Definition of a Graph
       (1) Nodes, Edges, Weights
       (2) Decision Trees
       (3) Graphical representation in 0, 1, 2, 3, …, N dimensions
m) Understand and use figures appropriately
    i) Appropriate use of physiological and medical schematics
    ii) Appropriate use and presentation of sketches in drafting and prototype design
n) Understand and use diagrams appropriately to communicate general processes
    i) Appropriate use of flow diagrams, process algorithms diagrams, etc.

				
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