On briefing producers effectively

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I have been in many briefing sessions where I have had to stop the person briefing me to ask, “Wait, what are we making? A website? An app? A video?”

When briefing producers (or anyone, really) — remember to start at the beginning. Too often, the briefer jumps immediately to all the details that they have been turning over in their head, but if the briefee doesn’t have the context to work with, the details are all useless (and will be immediately forgotten). Setting up the context is especially important for producers (and other management-level team members) because the decision-making which is a key part of their work relies on having a good overview of the situation.

Although it is useful for briefing sessions to happen face-to-face so that the briefee can ask questions along the way, it also makes sense for the briefer to supply written information because:

  • The transfer of information is almost entirely in one direction;
  • The briefee will likely need to refer to the information frequently as they get up to speed;
  • The briefee is much less familiar with the context than the briefer, so it will be much easier for the briefer to supply notes on key points than for the briefee to figure out what they key points are on the fly.

When I’m briefing in a project to a producer, this is the information I typically write down for them to digest before the verbal briefing:

  • One-line summary of the concept;
  • Project team and other contacts, both internal and client-side;
  • Links to key documents such as the concept presented to client, cost estimate details, proposed timelines;
  • Overview of other relevant details — this usually includes things like a rundown of what’s happened so far, key difficulties to look out for, any unusual resourcing requirements;
  • Next steps — at the point of the handover, the briefer is much more familiar with the project than the briefee, so it is often useful for them to suggest next steps to ease the transition.

Making this basic information available to the new producer up front gives them a good chance to set up the mental framework required for slotting in other details that would otherwise be left in a useless, meaningless pile.

Also published on Medium.

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