Briefing project managers is a skill – who’s trained for it?

“This is a long; much longer than a briefing note I would normally get from my manager or sponsor.” These are words spoken by someone on a project management course and words I have heard before.

What was being referred to was a case study, 315 words long and took up less than a page of paper. The person went on to say that they normally get a one line email or a briefing that lasts less than 30 seconds.

This brings me to a briefing activity we sometimes do with project sponsors. The activity involves 3 people with one person being briefed by another with the 3rd person acting as observer. I start the feedback by asking the person who was briefed to say what the project is all about. Very few people get anywhere near the actual brief!

Poor briefing leads to misunderstandings and wasted effort. So what are some of the rules for better briefing by sponsors?

• have a clear objective and say what it is in your briefing

• plan for the briefing – allow your self time to think how information will be presented

• analysing the person being briefed and building this into your plan

• allow the person being briefed to ask questions – encourage the asking of questions during the briefing session and afterwards

• test understanding by asking questions

• think about the time and the place for the briefing to take place (you would be surprised by some of the places people tell me they have received a [verbal] brief)

• get feedback yourself! You will only improve if you know how you have done and what better way to check than when you have just briefed someone

So, what’s the question?

Of course there are more (do let me know) however, what I am trying to ensure is this; are you and your colleagues trained sufficiently well to brief people effectively?

Briefing project managers is a skill – who’s trained for it?

“This is a long; much longer than a briefing note I would normally get from my manager or sponsor.” These are words spoken by someone on a project management course and words I have heard before.

What was being referred to was a case study, 315 words long and took up less than a page of paper. The person went on to say that they normally get a one line email or a briefing that lasts less than 30 seconds.

This brings me to a briefing activity we sometimes do with project sponsors. The activity involves 3 people with one person being briefed by another with the 3rd person acting as observer. I start the feedback by asking the person who was briefed to say what the project is all about. Very few people get anywhere near the actual brief!

Poor briefing leads to misunderstandings and wasted effort. So what are some of the rules for better briefing by sponsors?

  • have a clear objective and say what it is in your briefing
  • plan for the briefing – allow your self time to think how information will be presented
  • analysing the person being briefed and building this into your plan
  • allow the person being briefed to ask questions – encourage the asking of questions during the briefing session and afterwards
  • test understanding by asking questions
  • think about the time and the place for the briefing to take place (you would be surprised by some of the places people tell me they have received a [verbal] brief)
  • get feedback yourself! You will only improve if you know how you have done and what better way to check than when you have just briefed someone

So, what’s the question?

Of course there are more (do let me know) however, what I am trying to ensure is this; are you and your colleagues trained sufficiently well to brief people effectively?

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