Writing for Results:
The Art and Science of Successful
Manual, Guidelines and Templates
for Briefing Notes, Briefing Books,
Briefing Papers, Memos and Letters
Results is organized so you can intuitively find the
guidance you need at a given time without having to go through
the whole book. It provides comprehensive guidance and templates
for preparing briefing notes, briefing books, memos and letters
for colleagues, your supervisor and senior executives.
Writing for Results comprises four parts, each of which
is a stage in the step-by-step model. Each part is divided into chapters
that cover tasks in the writing process. The first two parts discuss
concepts that are essential in communicating with either oral or
written media. The third part provides guidance on selecting the
medium or media of communication for a given message. The fourth
part, the longest, provides guidance that is unique to written media.
The following gives you an overview of what you will find in the
I. Give Yourself a Frame of
Reference. This part discusses the foundation of the briefing note — elements
that will affect everything else that follows. It is important
that the elements of the frame of reference be mutually compatible.
Changing one element often means changing other elements as well.
1 – Objective. This chapter emphasizes the importance
of defining a viable and useful purpose for any writing endeavour,
be it a briefing note, a briefing book, a memo, a letter or anything
else. A useful objective states something that needs to be achieved,
as opposed to simply conveying a message.
2 – Audience. This chapter points out that there are
often options in selecting the optimum audience to achieve an
objective — a point missed by most business writing books.
3 – Authority. Defining the authority needed for a
document is the flip side of selecting an audience. If the writer
doesn't have the authority to address a given audience, he or
she will need to select an audience that he or she does have
the authority to address and that will further his or her goals.
This, in turn, will likely change the immediate objective of
4 – Barriers and Competition. This chapter emphasizes
the importance of defining what barriers and competition the
message needs to overcome in order to achieve its objective.
Barriers and competition might also affect the objective, audience,
authority and time lines of the message.
5 – Time Lines. This chapter explains the significance
of defining a deadline, a schedule and a personal time budget
for the process, particularly for complex messages. Changes in
time lines can affect the objective, audience and authority of
II. Research and Select the
Content. This part discusses the bricks and mortar of the
message, as opposed to organization, format, style and grammar.
- Chapter 6 – Relevance
to the Frame of Reference. This chapter goes into detail
on the factors to consider in deciding what material is relevant
to the objective, audience, authority, barriers/competition and
time lines of a message. It focuses particularly on audience
needs, knowledge and interests.
- Chapter 7 – Abstract
vs. Concrete. This chapter introduces the writer to the nature
of language, its benefits and its dangers. It explains that the
writer must decide whether to use abstract terms or concrete
details, thus affecting both the comprehension of a message and
- Chapter 8 – Substance
vs. Froth. This chapter explains that what sounds important
may be mere pomposity, thus hindering the writer from achieving
- Chapter 10 – Positive
vs. Negative. This chapter explains that most ideas can be
expressed either positively or negatively, with widely varying
impacts on the reader and, possibly, the length of the message.
the Medium. This part discusses the merits of different
- Chapter 11 – Oral.
This chapter explains the merits of oral media and lists some of
the options available.
- Chapter 12 – Written.
This chapter explains the merits of written media and lists some
of the options available.
IV. Prepare the Message. This
part provides guidance that is unique to written media. The chapters
are sequenced in the order in which tasks should be pursued.
- Chapter 14 – Organization
and First Draft. This chapter provides techniques that ease
the tasks of developing an organization structure and writing
the first draft. In explaining how to develop an organization
structure, it starts with a very simple example and progresses
through explanations of how to organize complex messages. It
also shows how different organization structures can be used
for the same raw material.
15 – Format. This chapter explains how to make the
organization structure visible and easily readable. In separate
sections, it shows how to develop formats for: 1) memos; 2) briefing
notes and briefing books on issues; 3) briefing books for meetings,
events and trips; and 4) letters. The section on briefing
notes and briefing books on issues provides extensive examples
of how to develop formats that range from the very simple to
the very complex while still achieving a document that is highly
16 – Style. This chapter provides simple techniques
that make a document easy to read. It is divided into four sections: 1)
short words; 2) how to bring verbs to life; 3) how to fix a sentence;
and 4) how to use acronyms.
17 – Grammar. This chapter explains the need to respect
the conventions of grammar that most people follow when they
use words to communicate. It makes no attempt to provide a comprehensive
grammar guide, as there are many excellent full books on the
subject. It does, however, go into detail on three common challenges:
1) capital letters; 2) relative clauses; and 3) misused words.
18 – Final Touches. This chapter explains the three
final stages in writing: 1) cooling off and review; 2) using
electronic document tracking systems; and 3) follow-up.