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How to prepare a brief effectively

Anyone who has ever worked in a business, especially in a managerial position, has probably at some point needed to write a task brief. It can often be a drudgery of a task. It's not often that you need to write something as specifically dictated as a task brief. Sure, you're used to writing emails and memos, but a task brief is another thing altogether. How can you prepare a task brief effectively and concisely? Follow these simple tips to learn how.

First, you should complete an outline of your task brief. It should be a short overview of everything you need to include in your brief. You may think that this is simply a waste of time, but don't be too hasty. Writing an outline, although it may take a few minutes, is a great way to speed up the process of writing the actual brief. With an outline you already know what you need to say and simply need to put it down on paper. Then, using the outline you have just written, follow these steps to write the actual task brief.

1. Description of task: This needs to be a complete description of the task involved. Include important names, dates, places, etc. It should be brief and to the point, yet full of all the relevant information that anyone reading the brief may need to know.
2. Background on the product or company: You, as the brief writer will usually be more "up to speed" than the people you're writing the brief for. It's easy to assume that the brief receivers have an in-depth knowledge that he or she does not have. So it's important that you give "too much" background information on the client and the product or service being written about so that all those reading the brief will understand.
3. Audience description: The fastest way to undermine your ability as a brief writer to do a good job is to deprive you of your crystal clear image of the target audience. You need to need to feel an intimate understanding of what the audience wants, needs and desires. That understanding needs to be of a depth that it allows you to picture clearly and accurately an individual within the target group. You should be able to close your eyes, see the person, picture his or her home and yard, know how s/he likes to spend his free time and understand what most excites and scares him or her in life.
4. Principal purpose of the communication: Again, this is an extremely important part. Many well-written pieces of advertising have failed to deliver, simply because the writer was never given a clear view of what that "deliverable" really was. Think to yourself: what is the principal purpose of this email, web page, or newsletter? The more precisely this question can be answered, the better you will be able to write a clear, sharp communication that stays on purpose from the first word to the last.
5. Timeline: Great briefs cannot be written in an hour. The assimilation of background information, a growing understanding of the audience at the individual level and the process of writing itself is a creative process when done well. It takes time. The first draft is never the best draft. Nor the second. As a result, you need to be given sufficient warning of an upcoming job and be provided with enough time to write the brief well.

If you follow these simple steps, brief writing will become a cinch. You won't have to agonize about wasting your time thinking of what to say because all you need to do is outline what the point of the brief is, and then follow the above steps.


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Posted by DF
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