Briefing Note Fundamentals

. . .to support strong decision making

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What this course offers and why it matters

Briefing Note Fundamentals brings together what we’ve learned over the past 30 years reviewing briefing notes and working with writers, reviewers, and decision makers. We collected all the common problems that bog briefing notes down or lead to multiple revisions—and then built this course to solve those problems.

This course teaches concrete skills to:

  • give decision makers focused, useful information
  • draft content more quickly and confidently
  • create much more concise briefing notes
  • identify the primary issue in a briefing note
  • choose the right supporting information to align with the primary issue
  • differentiate between background and analysis
  • build strong, clear, evidence-based arguments
  • shorten or expand a briefing note depending on the amount of information needed
  • use templates more effectively with less struggle
  • communicate your expertise to non-experts in a clear, understandable way
  • structure content for readability
  • edit your own and others’ briefing notes effectively
  • do your part to reduce number of reviews
  • avoid common problems

Briefing notes are incredibly important documents. So let's make sure they work.

How is this different from other briefing note courses?

You walk away with real skills. It is not theoretical. Every piece of guidance in the course is practical and immediately applicable—to great effect.

We built the course to be interesting and varied. We use white board video, film of instructors, exercises, before-and-after examples, quizzes, immediate practice of concepts, and opportunities to comment and learn from other people who take the course.

We interact with you. You ask us questions and send us your exercises, and we respond with useful feedback.

It won't waste your time. We built the course the same way we recommend writing a briefing note—with focused, useful content and no fluff that doesn’t add value.

We look at briefing notes in context. Writers are not the only factors in creating strong briefing notes. We show how you can improve your organizational process as a whole.

Take our free preview module to see us in action

The preview is a free excerpt from this Briefing Note Fundamentals course, which will give you a feel for our online teaching style and a new skill.

What users say about the course...

"This was a revolution! It completely changed my approach to writing briefing notes."

- Writer from provincial health ministry

"Writing has up until now been the bane of my existence. I’ve had nowhere to send people that teaches them concise, effective, tight writing for decision makers. This content is precise, engaging, and usable.

This excites me! The course left me with the feeling of wanting to go write a document. I've sat through a month-long course that didn't give me a fraction of the value."

- Change management consultant in the private sector

"The mixed use of video and audio slides enhances the delivery by 1000% compared to our typical online training."

- Writer from a federal review body

"This will really help reduce bloat in my documents. I feel every member of our team could benefit from this—I’m almost excited to write my next briefing note! The examples were relevant and helpful.

- Writer from a provincial Public Service Commission

Frequently Asked Questions


When does this course start and finish?
The course is self-paced, with access for 4 months from the day you register. That should be enough to complete it, but not enough time to forget what you learned at the beginning. And if you need an extension for some reason, you can let us know.
How long will it take me to do the course?
It's up to you. We've designed the course so you can choose the pace that suits you best. But this will give you a rough idea:

The speed version—If you only watched the videos and read (but didn’t do) the main exercises, it would take you roughly 4-5 hours back-to-back. You might do this short version if you are a manager who wants a sense of what your staff are learning to help you review their work.

The full version—To do the exercises and master the concepts takes roughly 10 to 15 hours. (We then recommend doing the speed version once more, as you write an actual briefing note.)
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied, please contact us.

Course Curriculum


  Introduction to the course
Available in days
days after you enroll

Would you like feedback on your writing?

You have an option to add personal feedback on a briefing note to the course. You send us a document within 6 months of registering, and we send you back detailed, constructive feedback about what’s working perfectly and where there’s more you can do. We also have a 15-minute coaching call with you to discuss it (as well as any questions you have from the course).

This is what people say about the feedback:

"The feedback on my writing was excellent and gave advice that I can actually use. It was respectful (and positive!) and was a great opportunity to have a skilled, professional editor look at my writing. Thank you!"

"I realized I have not received any comments like this since university. This is so valuable."

"The writing sample feedback was surprising. It revealed weaknesses of which I was wholly unaware and included easy-to-digest solutions."

"The one-on-one phone meeting reinforced the material really well. I really appreciated the feedback sheet. It is a great reference for future writing projects."

"The feedback helped tie together everything I learned over the course."

Get started now!



Group pricing

We offer reduced rates for groups. Please contact us at [email protected] if you'd like to know more.

 

You can apply for a grant

We know times are uncertain. If you have financial limitations that might prevent you taking the course, you can apply for a partial or full grant here. Please give us a little bit of information about your circumstances and why taking the course is important to you.

Your Instructors


Wordsmith Associates
Wordsmith Associates

Wordsmith has been training writers for 40 years. We emphasize practical tools for writers, delivered in a purposeful and engaging way. This course is team-taught by some of our best instructors. You can find their bios at https://wordsmith.ca/our-people/