A few years ago, BJ taught me a new word: “sesquipedalian” – defined as:
Characterized by long words; long-winded.
His contention? That the adjective applies to far too much proposal content. We want writing to appear natural, conversational: if you couldn’t imagine reading your answer aloud to the evaluators across a table in a meeting room, it’s probably too formal. Yet content contributors seem to feel the need to use grandiose words and phrases, as if this will impress the readers. (After all, at school you got higher marks for using more advanced language to impress the teacher with the range of your vocabulary, right? The same just isn’t true of proposals. You’re writing to win a contract, not the Nobel Prize for Literature.)
Three recent examples of unnecessarily-complicated writing that have caught my eye of late, the first from a proposal which noted that:
“The project will be delivered within a three-month timeframe.”
The second comes from the coffee machine outside a meeting room in which I’ve been working regularly. Aside from the cappuccinos. lattes and americanos, it offers “hot water”. The sign next to the machine usefully add the explanation: “A portion-controlled hot water selection.” Just in case you were in any doubt…
And the third? Also drink-related, from a recent stay in Vegas. Here’s the blurb from the packaging:
Good things in Small Packages
The Revolution is our award-winning single serving box with one infuser inside.