A briefing note is a tool used to make decision makers informed about issues they are responsible for. It can be defined as a short paper that quickly and effectively informs a decision maker about an issue. It breaks down complex information into a short well-structured document. A good briefing note should be short, concise, clear, reliable and readable.
Format of a Briefing Note
Much as there are many variations in the standard format of a briefing note, it should have three main parts which include:
A good briefing note should state the issue at hand, proposal or problem clearly to the reader. It should be very precise and set out in the form of a question or statement what the briefing note is about
2 SUMMARY OF FACTS
Background: This basically give the reader a history of how the current situation came to be. It answers questions like’ what led to the current situation?’ or ‘how has it evolved since it started?’
Current status: Details the current situation of the matter and who is involved.
Key considerations: This is a summary of everything that needs to be considered now. While this is a summary of important facts, developments and considerations, it should be as unbiased as possible. Statements should be substantiated with evidence therefore one needs to double check facts before presenting them. Reader’s needs should be put in consideration when selecting facts to be presented.
Options: This is basically observations and meanings of key considerations, description of the options available and their advantages and disadvantages.
This is a summary of what the reader should infer from the note. Nothing new should be introduced at this point and if you want to offer recommendations, it should be the best and most sound advise you can offer.
Step by step model of a briefing note.
- Perceive the need: You should consider the need for the briefing and its relevance to audience.
- Give yourself a frame of reference: This entails strategic perspective, objective, audience, authority, barriers and timelines. These considerations help keep focused on your work and avoid spending time on unnecessary issues that are not the task at hand. It is also at this point that you get to know whether to proceed or not
- Research and select the content: This should be very elaborate for the decision maker to be able to get the real situation or the importance of the matter no matter how complex it is.
- Select on the medium, whether it’s written, oral or both.
- Prepare the briefing.
- Deliver the briefing.
- Audience: One has to be very strategic depending on the target audience
- Response: get feedback from audience to be able to gauge whether the message was relayed well.
Examples & Templates:
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In conclusion, a briefing note should be very precise and elaborate, it should not exceed two pages. It should be able to inform a decision maker who may not be well versed with a given subject or who has got to deal with various issues and does not have the time to be able to read and make decisions with the note. The key issues and recommendations should be well outlined to avoid ambiguity.