Getting to the Point When Time Is a Factor

While many people don’t have to give presentations every day, they often have to give updates or briefings. A briefing is a mini presentation that you can give in a short period of time. It could be as short as 30 seconds or as long as a few minutes. It might be planned, or it might be a spur of the moment, impromptu briefing.

A briefing can be a shorter version of a longer presentation. Sometimes you may find that a superior missed your presentation, and you need to quickly update him or her. Perhaps, just before a client meeting, they inform you that your allotted time has been drastically reduced. Other situations where you may need to give a shorter version include:

  • Stating your opinion in a meeting.
  • Sharing your position on a topic with a co-worker.
  • Impromptu speaking at an event or special occasion.
  • Responding to a performance review.
  • Interviewing for a new job.

The challenge, in any of the above scenarios, is how to distill your information down to the real “need to know?” Here’s a 4-step briefing format that can be used in a variety of situations:

  1. Gain the attention of the audience-be it one person or several people.
  2. State your core message-the main point you want to share.
  3. Provide evidence that supports your key message. Your evidence should be from your own personal experience or an example of someone else’s experience, particularly if you don’t have time to do research. Your personal experience or someone else’s are first-person and hard to argue against.
  4. Recommend action to the audience-what you want them to do because of your briefing.

Here’s an example of the 4-Step Briefing Format:

“Three weeks ago, you asked me to look into whether or not we should offer on-site day care at this facility. (Gain Attention). I think we need to offer that option to our employees. (Core Message). The reason I say this is because our Human Resources Department came to me with the results of the latest exit interviews. According to the surveys, the major reason our top recruits were leaving was their inability to find affordable day care in this area. Our main competitor was having the same problem of retaining their high potential people because of a lack of affordable day care. Eighteen months ago, the competition instituted on-site day care at their main facility. As a result, they cut the attrition rate by 76% in the first year alone. (Evidence). That’s why I recommend we offer on-site day care to our employees.” (Recommendation).

For more information on formatting your ideas quickly, please visit Communispond’s website at and explore our courses on Executive Presentation Skills, Delivering Memorable Presentations, and Creating Memorable Presentations.


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