Four Key Elements for an Effective Briefing


Meetings can be a huge time “killer.” I am amazed at the amount of time many businesses and organizations spend in meetings. There is a fine line between communication that is needed and a waste of time.

The other side of the coin is, “I am working in an organization that doesn’t communicate.”

So how does a company manage effective communication versus wasting time? Many organizations have allowed their email system to become their “default” method of communication. Emails lose so much in tone, texture, and meaning. I have found emails to be the least effective way to communicate anything beyond just basic information.

So how does a person grab someone’s attention without crossing that line of wasting others’ time? The military initially developed the concept of briefings – a process designed to give participants critical information, without wading too much into the “weeds.” Unfortunately, today, the military has modeled many of its briefings after corporate America and their time spent in meetings has grown exponentially.

Still, they provided us with the four critical elements to a productive and short briefing. Here are what the experts recommend:

  1. Understand your topic and subject. One critical mistake is when the person giving the briefing does not have the in-depth knowledge or understanding of the matter or issue. Depth of knowledge allows a person to eliminate the extemporaneous information and to cut right to the heart of critical information or factors. Unfortunately, many of us have sat through a briefing given by a person who doesn’t understand the subject. This is a waste of time.
  2. Develop an outline. Writing out and developing an outline of what is essential and what needs to be covered forces a presenter to process internally and to make important clarifications. Drafting key points and thoughts allow the “briefing” to focus on important elements.
  3. Highlight the key points. Briefings are not supposed to give and cover all the information. Highlighting the key points and leaving out less important information allows you to focus on the key facts that you, as the presenter, want the audience to walk away with. Identifying key challenges is an excellent basis for a briefing. Less is more and this concept can be a very useful tool to bring focus to a topic.
  4. Look beyond the facts. With the Internet today, anyone can find answers to almost any question on almost any topic. There are answers all around us. The key to an effective briefing is the insight that is brought to the presentation. Effective briefers are capable of bringing a fresh perspective to a topic.

The goal is to be able to get to the points quickly and to provide clarity, without sacrificing completeness. A short and effective briefing is a work of art, but it is seldom achieved.

See you in McAllen!