Making Proposals Great Again: The Donald Trump Effect


Posted By Steve Snow | May 03, 2016


Love him or hate him, The Donald’s approach to messaging is unique in a world of ‘political speak.’ What can we learn from Trump’s direct (some might say ‘brash’) communication style?

Since we’re in the midst of a political season, I thought it would be fun to see how U.S. politicians’ speech has evolved over time. After all, politicians are highly aware of how they can persuade voters; and the art of writing sales proposals is also all about persuasion.

The Trump Effect

Using the Flesch-Kincaid reading grade index as a guide, here is a snapshot of how famous politician’s language has shifted through the years.

George Washington 18th grade
Abraham Lincoln 11th grade
Franklin Roosevelt 12th grade
Ronald Reagan 10th grade
Bill Clinton 10th grade
George W. Bush 8th grade
Barack Obama  8th grade
Donald Trump  4th grade

My take is that politicians know that simple language resonates with the broadest audience. We should do the same thing when we write proposals and RFP responses. Make our language easy for evaluators to understand—quickly.

Don’t try to write impressively—work hard to write persuasively.

Now, I don’t suggest that you write proposals at the 4th grade level. In my opinion, it’s good to shoot for 10th grade readability. It takes a conscious effort, but you can do it.

The Flesh-Kincaid equations scores readability using two simple factors:

  •          The average number of words per sentence
  •          The average number of syllables per word

The more you can use shorter sentences, and use 1-2 syllable words in place of 3-4 syllable words, the more effectively you will get your message across.

You probably won’t win the presidency, but you’re bound to win more business!

Join me for a Qvidian webinar on this topic on Wednesday, May 18th (11 AM US ET/ 4 PM GMT)