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  • Writer's pictureMikayla Thompson

Anatomy of a briefing

Are you wanting to share important information or advice with the government? A briefing is the perfect way to do this. The term briefing might sound a bit daunting at first, but don’t worry! We’re here to break it down for you.

A briefing is a relatively short paper setting out information and advice. Briefings are used to quickly inform decision-makers, such as politicians and public servants, about your kaupapa - the challenges you’re facing, why addressing those challenges is important, and the solutions you’ve identified for those decision makers to consider.

Before we dive into the content of your briefing, there are some key principles you need to think about when putting a briefing together:

  • Get clear about your key message 

  • Keep it relevant 

  • Understand your stakeholder and what you want them to do 

Get clear about your key message 

Think about why this issue is important to you, your organisation, or the people of your community. Make sure you can explain the benefits of taking action on your issue.

Keep it relevant 

A briefing should be brief (the name gives it away) - stick to the important points, don’t repeat yourself or go on tangents, and use clear language. You want to keep the interest of whoever is reading the briefing and give them all of the important points as quickly as possible.

Understand your stakeholder and what you want them to do 

Understand who you are writing your briefing for, and think about how acting on this issue aligns with their interests. If it’s a Minister, how does this briefing relate to them or their portfolio? If it is for internal use, what are the most crucial details to prioritise for your team? Balance the actions you want the stakeholder to take with how they will benefit from engaging with your kaupapa.

Once you have figured out these key principles you can start writing your briefing. A briefing is usually structured like this:


The purpose should contain one or two sentences explaining what this briefing is for. State the issue or problem in a way that your stakeholder will understand. 

Executive Summary

Background/key facts/history


Remember to review and edit your work! Try reading it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know much about your mahi - or better yet, hand it over to a fresh pair of eyes to review. With any final touch-ups, you are ready to influence the big decision-makers. Best of luck!

Mikayla holds a Master's degree in Public Policy, as well as a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts. She lives in Tāmaki Makaurau and has a keen interest in policy and politics.


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