Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information

August 1999

Give Your Proposal an Edge

Are you vying for a slice of the $1 million pie? Are you preparing a proposal for the Extension Initiative Funds? Enhance your proposal. Give it an edge.

The Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools are designed to help you do just that.

Clear, succinct descriptions of target audiences, anticipated impact, and proposed evaluation methods are critical elements that distinguish successful proposals. Yet these elements are often given only cursory attention.

Some people find these elements difficult to articulate because they fall outside their areas of expertise. They don't know how to describe them except in general and imprecise terms--and generalities and imprecision don't make for strong proposals.

The exercises and questions in the seven worksheets that make up the Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools can help you effectively identify and describe the target audiences for your proposal (or project or new course), the anticipated impact of your efforts, and the measures you propose to evaluate your success.

The worksheets will:

You may invest anywhere from 20 minutes to two days working through the Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools, depending on your current understanding of the audiences and issues that affect them--and on the time you can devote. But the greater your investment, the greater your potential for success.

One of the most valuable things you can get from the worksheets is a clear, succinct Anticipated Impact Statement--complete with audience definition, action verb, specific issue area, measurement and evaluation indicator, and completion point.

To really stand out against the competition, put your Anticipated Impact Statement right up front in your abstract, and repeat it throughout.

Interested? Visit to find PDF files of the Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools worksheets you can download and use to enhance your proposal.

Use the Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools to strengthen your Extension Initiative Funds proposal. Use them whenever you're seeking support for a new program, campaign, course, or research project. That's what they're there for.

Two Extension & E-Mail Success Stories

Every now and again, it's good to be reminded that e-mail, which I get awfully tired of and which sometimes seems more like bane than boon, is a useful tool. I was reminded twice recently.

On August 11 Janet Bechman (CFS) sent a message headed "Farm Economy/Stress Info. Available." It was a list of some of the resources already available to assist families dealing with farm finances and stress--certainly a timely topic.

Her list was well organized, laying out what's available now and where we can get it. She also included information about resources in the preparation stage.

The list's brevity made it ideal for the medium. Length and e-mail are a little like oil and water--they don't mix very well. And the list was not only short, it was "on target." Purdue Extension offers MANY resources on families and stress and finances. Wisely, Janet didn't remind us of them ALL; she selected only the most relevant. A short, sweet, and useful list.

That same week, Byron Fagg (Washington County) circulated a question about soybeans and drought. I didn't pay much attention, because I know absolutely NOTHING about the subject. Over the next day or two, a couple people answered him--and I deleted those answers as fast as I'd nuked his original question.

But then Byron did a neat thing. He circulated an e-mail message headed "Info on Soybean Development" that contained some of the responses he'd received, figuring he couldn't be the ONLY Purdue Extension staff member who could use the information.

Turns out that what he did was even neater than I'd thought. When I called to ask him if he'd mind my citing him in an "On Target" story, he told me that another reason he'd sent out the digest of answers was to bring the soybean saga to a natural close, letting his colleagues know that he pretty much had what he thought he needed.

Talk about Purdue Extension in action. Talk about e-mail in action. Talk about two good uses of an often abused communication tool.

TV Interview Tips & Etiquette

You can use TV exposure to advantage. Think of it as free advertising for Purdue Agriculture and Purdue Extension.

As in any other interview situation, be sure you've done your homework and have the facts you need at hand. That done, it's time to consider how you'll handle yourself on TV.

During the interview, make sure your body language and speech patterns express confidence and don't make you appear shifty or nervous. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer; when you look away, you appear shifty. Sit on the edge of your chair so you look interested, but be careful not to grip the chair as if in fear!

Try not to fidget. Stick to a few, practiced hand gestures. Cross your legs AWAY from the camera. Smile--TV accentuates facial expressions. Men with a beard or mustache should be especially aware of keeping an open facial expression.

Speak with conviction and enthusiasm, but don't speak too quickly. Try to use "Purdue" in every answer. Stop talking when you've made your point. Avoid technical jargon, and beware of phrases such as "I think" or "pretty good." If you can personalize a subject with examples, do so.

Instead of saying "no comment," which can make you look as if you're hiding something, say "I'll check on that and get back to you" or "I can't comment on that right now. When I have the information, I'll let you know." If you give a personal opinion, make sure the reporter knows you speak for yourself and not for the institution you represent.

Be prepared to address negative questions, and never show your anger toward a reporter. Never lie or veil the truth--it only makes matters worse. Be accurate. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. Beware of hypothetical questions; the answers may make dramatic headlines, but they don't relay the facts.

An interview begins the moment the reporter arrives and lasts until they leave, so don't say anything you don't want to see on the air. Don't say anything "off the record."

Don't let a reporter put words in your mouth. If inaccurate facts are used in a question, challenge it. If a situation becomes difficult, don't get flustered. Ask the reporter to repeat or explain the question while you consider your answer.

At the end of the interview, thank the reporter for the opportunity to express/clarify your position on the subject. Being warm and accommodating may result in an invitation for more "free advertising."

Grammar Trap: Apprise vs. Appraise

These two verbs sound similar, so similar that people confuse them. In fact, some people aren't even aware the first verb exists.

"Apprise" means to inform or tell about something.

Example: Dave King wrote "Give Your Proposal an Edge" to apprise you of the Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools.

"Appraise" means to set a value on something or evaluate its worth.

Example: I have to have someone appraise my jewelry before I can insure it.

If there's a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like me to discuss, or if you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.

We want to hear from you.
Do you have a communication question?
Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"?
If so, please e-mail any of our writers or On Target's managing editor, Kevin Smith.

It is the policy of the Department of Agricultural Communication Service of Purdue University
that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities
without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability.
Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer.
These materials may be available in alternative formats.

Magazine Menu Resource Library Menu

© 2005 Purdue University EEO Statement