When it comes to bidding, is a picture really worth a thousand words?

written by Robin Hastings
6 · 23 · 17

How do graphics affect the chances of your tender or proposal being read, understood, and invited to presentation?

Did you know that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text?

Or, perhaps most importantly, that images are processed by long term memory whilst text is processed within the short-term memory?

One study has found that presenters who use visual aids are 43% more effective in getting people to do what they want (University of Minnesota School of Management).

Research by 3M shows visuals have been found to improve learning by up to 400%.


I’m absolutely fascinated by the psychology behind cognition and comprehension.

As bid managers and writers it’s so important that we develop a solution that meets the requirements of the prospect’s audience or assessment panel. But even more so, it is vital that we are able to articulate the concept to them in a way that is easily understood and processed.

The Executive Summary is your one chance to make a first impression with the prospect. We know that it takes about 7 seconds for first impressions to be formed. So what does your audience get in its first 7 seconds with your Executive Summary?

We’ve been conducting a lot of research into neuroscience and cognitive psychology to better understand how our bids are received, and the best way to present information for favourable outcomes.

One study found that after three days the audience retained only around 10-20 per cent of written or spoken information, but they retained around 65% of visual information. Another found that illustrated text was 9% more effective than information delivered via text alone, when testing immediate comprehension – and 83% more effective when there was a delay to undertaking the test.

So, what can you do to improve your tender’s chances of success?

Use graphics to break down technical information into more palatable graphics and images. Visuals, imagery and graphics clearly cause faster and stronger reactions than words. They help audiences to engage with the content. Try delivering win themes via special images, captions, call out boxes and highlighted text for optimum audience cognition. Break up large swathes of text with graphics to illustrate key points. Or replace large swathes of text altogether by developing infographics, diagrams, or illustrations that get the point across in fewer words and a more palatable medium. Technical information can always be added into the appendix for the curious assessor to find when their interest and attention drives them to, rather than distracting the majority of the audience from the key message.

Perhaps even more fascinating is the chemical balance of neurotransmitters that can affect how long you are able to maintain the audience’s attention, but we’ll save that for another post.

Pitch This are running workshops in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney during July and August, focusing on how to use neuroscience and cognitive psychology to deliver a successful bid.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse (23 June 2017)

Robin Hastings

Managing Director & Founder of PitchThis, Robin is a senior bid manager and corporate writer with extensive experience in bidding and project management across corporate, public and NFP sectors.

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