Business Winning Tip: Be Bold: Use Active Voice in Your Proposals

Active and passive voice sentences both convey action, but active sentences are more persuasive, decisive, and confident. Use active voice unless you have a good reason to choose passive voice.

Proposals written in strong, clear language are more effective. Active sentences are usually shorter, more dynamic, and more forceful. Remember, we are trying to win business and persuade the evaluators. Active voice is emphatic, decisive, and accepts responsibility for action.

Passive voice in writing tends to create longer, less persuasive, and sometimes ambiguous sentences.  Passive voice weakens your message by evading responsibility and distancing you from your customer.

The differences in form of active and passive voices are easy to see.

Active sentences generally have three elements, usually in this familiar order: In passive sentences:
1.       An actor doing an action 1. The recipient takes the actor’s place
2.       A verb describing the action 2. The verb changes form and needs an additional helping verb
3.       A recipient being acted upon 3. The actor is introduced in a by phrase or is omitted


Customers are less interested in awarding a contract to an organization or person that seems weak-willed, evasive, or indecisive. Customer want the bidder to accept responsibility, make things happen, appear confident, meet requirements, and solve their problems.