A briefing is designed to deliver complex information effectively to diverse audiences and decision-makers. The main goal is to address an issue, influence others to join in and offer a solution to the problem - all in a minimal word count.
Understanding how to write government and public sector briefs is important when presenting your concerns practically and professionally. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make your briefs and submissions compelling, even with the word and time constraints.
1. Start With a Strong Foundation
Do you know your audience, what they care about and the information they need? There are various types of briefing notes depending on the purpose of the communication. Putting yourself in the intended readers’ shoes will increase the relevance of your brief.
Ultimately, the strongest way to start your brief is with time constraints at the forefront of your writing. Too often, the pursuit of perfection gets in the way of delivering a timely brief. The next step is one to follow closely so you can layout and write quickly.
2. Remember to Keep It Brief
Your goal is clarity and brevity. A brief should be no longer than two pages and should be clear, concise and compact. Likewise, it should get directly to the matter of the issue. Make the most of your words to get your point across without waffling or jargon.
Ask your proofer or editor to be ruthless with their proofing. Every word must be essential and your structure should have three identifiable parts.
Purpose: A statement of the issue or problem in one or two lines, clearly explaining the purpose of the briefing.
Main Body: It should include information on the background, current situation and options available to move forward. The information given should be concise, factual, clear and unbiased. If information is missing or unavailable, make a note of it so the reader can understand the full picture.
Conclusion: Summarise what you’ve already written and include no new information. The conclusion should leave the reader with a clear message and, where appropriate, recommendations on what’s next.
3. Make It Digestible
A good aim for any brief is to pass the ‘breakfast test’ - meaning it should be read and understood in the length of time it takes to drink a coffee over breakfast.
Use short paragraphs, boxes, subheadings and bullet points to make the brief visually appealing and easy to consume. In some cases, you may want to use bold for emphasis, but overdoing can have the opposite effect.
It can be beneficial to take a step back from your screen to see the impact of your accentuation.
4. Be Persuasive
When presenting information on an issue, all the details must be factual and reliable. Other individuals will rely on the information to determine whether or not they’ll support the resolution of your issue. Nothing is more persuasive than a well-researched piece with claims backed up with evidence.
Briefs have the potential to reach large audiences through different networks because of their condensed format. So make every enticing word count. This includes having a snappy and informative title to begin with.
In the public sector, it’s important you write everything accurately, effectively and to a high standard. If you’re looking to further develop your writing skills, whether report writing or minutes, we’ve created a guide for that very purpose.
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Reports, responding to complaints, taking minutes and everything in between. Public sector writing is more than just presenting information clearly and understandably. So, we’ve gathered tips, useful information and guidance in one easy-to-access guide.
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