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Briefing the boss: Make every word count

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in Workplace Communication

When you’re asked to “report back,” deliver a tidy, easy-to-follow summary. Senior executives appreciate getting a well organized, concise and fair analysis of a meeting they missed or an incident you witnessed.

Here’s how to help your listeners understand what they need to know quickly:

Choose a tight outline. Identify key points. Then decide how to structure your briefing so you can cover your points efficiently.

Example: To tell a busy boss about a conflict with a customer, present the problem, cause and solution. Begin by saying, “Let me summarize the problem, what caused it and a solution.” You give yourself a road map to follow and alert the boss to what’s coming next.

Keep moving. Briefings are designed to be brief, so don’t repeat yourself, dig for the right word or beat around the bush. If you’re a perfectionist or you’re detail-oriented, you may have trouble plowing forward.

Make sure every sentence builds on the previous one. Rather than assume you’re not making yourself clear—which might lead you to over-explain—touch briefly on each point and leave time for questions.

Create logical flow. Move from the general to the specific. Begin with an overview that conveys your most important themes or issues. Then support them without getting bogged down in justifying or defending your evidence.

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