Below, the goal, objective, scope, and product for a briefing memo or opinion are specified along with a suggested strategy for writing a briefing memo or opinion.
Recognition of meaningful information in a mass of details and representation that highlights the significance of information for a user.
Skills of distilling: listening, recording, observing, evaluating sources, relating detail to context, interpreting detail accurately in context, selecting detail according to relevance.
Capability of stating informed opinion that is aware of and responsive to other opinion.
One to two-page written memo, or one to two-paragraph written statement, possibly with attachments.
Only essential topics in an identified context. Targets a specific information need.
Use these guiding questions to develop the memo’s or statement’s contents:
Why is this communication necessary?
Consider the workload (and information overload) of the user. Is
the communication needed at all? Is it needed now?
What is the subject?
Consider the interruptions and distractions in the user’s
routine. Exactly what is the communication about?
What is the purpose?
Do you want
to inform policy makers about their choices? Or, do you want to
persuade a community? Help
the general public make
its mind? Lobby influential actors in order to influence outcomes?
According to your purpose, what must the document include and exclude?
What will this communication do?
What can happen as a result? Consider what you want recipients
to think or to do. What
the document include or exclude to enable the intended action?
What other consequences (other than the intended) might the communication
What is the context?
To what policy process
does this communication relate? Who are the players? What must the
include or exclude to catch
the intended recipient’s attention?
What is the situation of reception?
who will read and who will use the document. How do they like or
need information to be presented? Will
it or forward it to others? In what circumstances will it be read or used?
will you design the document for readability and usability?
are you providing the information?
Consider the ethics of your communication. Do you have a position
on, or a stake in, the subject? Do you have a role
in the policy process? How will you make your interest clear to