Many of you might have experienced what I went through at work recently. I had to write a proposal but just couldn’t figure out where to begin and how to follow up on the beginning.
Sure, I knew any writing task should have an introduction, body and conclusion–or at least that’s what Mrs. Boyle, my English teacher, taught me in school. But when you sit down to write project proposals, sometimes it is difficult to just figure out how to start. I’m very fond of Mrs. Boyle, but I found her tips on structuring didn’t help.
On the face of it, my task was simple: I had to submit a proposal on how to assess behavior shifts in people through a series of situational judgment tests. But the task had many layers. They were all there in my head but they were jumbled; when I decided to put pen to paper, I was befuddled.
After considering some popular writing structures, I came across a not-so-popular one–the PREP model.
This method has four stages:
P or Point or stating the main point briefly
R or Reason or providing reasons to substantiate the point
E or Example/Evidence or providing examples to validate the reasons
P or Point or adding a concluding point while re-emphasizing the main point
Never has this model been more relevant than now. As companies across the world adopt a work-from-home policy to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it is important to keep all writing for work short, crisp and to the point, because spontaneous clarification is not an option.
Not completely sure about how this would pan out, I decided to use this framework and prepare the proposal. I stated the main objective briefly: to assess behavior shifts through situational judgment tests.
Then I provided the reason for choosing this testing model. Situational judgment tests show how one approaches situations in the workplace and can, therefore, be an indicator of behavior change.
When I came to the third point—example or evidence—I stumbled a bit. The way we wanted to use situational judgment tests was unprecedented. Finding exact use cases was a bit difficult. Even so, I stuck to the format by using existing examples and linked them to my project.
Finally, I made the concluding point on the expected outcomes and data sets. In the end, I was able to connect the proposal to the original problem I had started out to solve.
Using the PREP method helped untangle my thoughts and structure them systematically. I was able to put across all my points with just the right amount of emphasis on all.
Although this model isn’t as famous as the pyramid principle, you can use it to write a range of official and academic documents with clarity and precision. So, ready to PREP up for your next writing assignment?
Srijeet Mukherjee is Manager, Learning Impact at Harappa Education
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