Altitude - Writing Effective Briefing Notes

Tuesday, 19 February 2019 - 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Room number: 
CRX C420
Contact information
Registration required: 
Cost to attend: 
Free of charge
Event organizer: 
Event language: 
Intended audience: 

*In English only at this time

When you write to decision makers, you need to convey only essential information. These people don’t have time to read unnecessary detail or scour texts for buried key messages.

This one-day workshop will teach you how to write strategic briefing notes—the primary vehicle that the Government of Canada uses to communicate with senior decision makers. By dividing the writing process into manageable steps, this workshop will equip you to compose briefing notes that meet the needs of a time-pressed, senior audience. In essence, you’ll learn how to provide the right information in the right way.

The workshop contains four sections. First, we discuss the parts of briefing notes and the roles these parts play. Here we also consider templates and review the characteristics of effective briefing notes. Second, using a real-life case study, we address the importance of planning, which involves clarifying your purpose, analyzing your reader, and acknowledging your deadlines. Third, we examine how to select and organize content to meet your objectives and your reader’s needs. And finally, we discuss how to compose effective summaries.

Note that this workshop does not cover grammar or writing style. Instead, the workshop concentrates on the strategic aspects of writing.


At the end of this workshop, you will be able to identify the parts of briefing notes, understand how to structure these parts using targeted content, and arrange ideas to help busy decision makers quickly understand issues and, if necessary, act.


We will address the following topics:

·        The three parts of a briefing note

·        The characteristics of a good briefing note

·        Common errors that briefing-note writers make

·        The five steps to writing effective briefing notes

·        Planning a briefing note

·        Outlining a briefing note

·        Writing the summary of a briefing note

 Ten rules for writing briefing notes