Writing a Business BriefBSB115 – Management Prepared and Presented by Graham Klaassen (4S Study Skills Program Coordinator)
On Completion of this Seminar, you will be able to.. • Describe the characteristics of a business brief • Explain the advantages of a business brief • Discuss the process for developing a business brief
What is a Business Brief A verbal or writtenreport that: – gives the receiver information they need to make an informed decision. OR - provides information so the receiver is up to date on an issue.
Purpose of a Business Brief • Provide a summary of an issue/topic • Identify relevance (Make it relevant) to the business • Identify any implications – positive & negative • Recommend course/s of action including arguments for and against suggested action/s.
Other important points • Written objectively • Written in a persuasive, active tone • Short and to the point • Provide enough information to enable a decision to be made quickly
The Essence of a writing a Business Brief • Extracting the maximumamount of information then conveying this information in the minimum number of words without losing or distorting theORIGINALmeaning.
Structure of this Business Brief • Cover Page – See Task sheet for details • Introduction • Analysis of the Topic – As per task sheet template OR modify the structure as you see fit. • One or two Recommendations • Reference List (APA Style)
Before you start writing, be sure you are clear about… • Why you are writing the brief? • For who are you writing the brief? • What does your audience [the CEO] need to know most about the business issue? • What points you will cover/leave out?
Your assigned “Contemporary Business Issue” First – The number of the group to which you have been assigned. – 1, 2, 3 etc. Second – the letter of the alphabet you have been assigned within your group E.g. Articles Group 3 - Group member 3A
Characteristics of a good Brief • Short – always as short as possible • Concise – every word is used as efficiently as possible • Clear– simple and to the point: include only what matters to the reader
Characteristics of a good Brief • Reliable – information must be accurate, sound and dependable: point out any missing information • Readable– use plain language, active voice, white space, subheadings etc.
Developing a Business Brief Research your assigned “contemporary business article” • Read and re-read material • Notemain argument/s or theme/s, the seminal work, key concepts and any supporting material • Summarise what you have read
Developing a Business Brief • Define any key terms (if necessary) • Use your own words • Revise until you have an accurate summary • Give only the “heart”of the message • omit repetition, detailed explanations
The 3 secrets to a good brief • Write in the active voice/tone • Use short sentences < 16 words • Your choice of words – • for impact and • to assist manage word count (brevity)
Some tips on Writing a Brief • Usually have three main parts • The purpose of the Brief (Introduction) • A summary of the facts (Background)and implications for your organisation • The conclusion and/or recommendation (refer to the Task sheet for suggested headings)
Writing the Brief – The Introduction • OR Purpose of the Brief - A concise statement that: • Should explain to the reader why the briefmatters(one or two lines.) • Can be set out in the form of a statement about what the rest of the briefis about OR as a question which the brief then answers. • 100 to 150 words MAX
Writing the Brief – The Introduction • Also should include: • A short definition / explanation of the management issue • Some background information on the issue – select whichever may be of relevance for your issue • Who or What or When or Where or Why • 100 to 150 words MAX
Writing the Brief – The Analysis • Overview of the issue • Details the reader needsin order to understand what follows • Typically this section adds to the history of the issue and/or other background information contained in the Introduction.
Writing the Brief – The Analysis • Relevance/key considerations • An unbiasedsummary of important facts, considerations, developments and RELEVANCE – everything that needs to be considered before making a decision. • Substantiate statements with evidence from your research etc.
Questions to help you frame your thinking ... • Is the topic and issues raised important for my type of product and industry? • Is the topic and issues raised important for my competitors and/or suppliers and/or labour market? • Is the topic and issues raised likely to impact on the general environment? • Is the topic and issues raised an important management consideration for my organisation?
Writing the Brief – Recommendations • Recommendation/s should present the best and most sound advice you can offer drawn from the conclusions of your analysis. • Make sure they are clear, direct and are substantiated by the facts you have put forward in the analysis section of the Brief
Structure of Recommendations • Focus on what should be done about the issue. • What specific actions or decisions need to be taken? • How will they be implemented? Monitored for effect? • What about ethical and social responsibility considerations or intercultural/international perspectives? • Are the recommendations a logical conclusion of your decision-making process?
Key points - writing recommendations • Begin with a short statement that leads into the recommendations and persuades the reader to take your recommendations seriously • List your recommendations using a numbered or bulleted format • Usually present in order of importance or in the order you dealt with them in your analysis • Use action/imperative verbs that give the reader an instruction to do something
Active recommendations Which one do you prefer? Passive: • It is recommended that 400m2 of the vacant space on the ground floor of 6-12 Main Street be set aside for the development of a staff fitness centre. OR Active: • Set aside 400m2 of the vacant space on the ground floor of 6-12 Main Street to develop a staff fitness centre.
Active Recommendations Model for recommendations: Begin with a Projecting opener: - a concluding statement from your analysis that justifies your course of action and leads into the recommendations • Active verb + what needs to be done... • Active verb + what needs to be done...
Active recommendations Recommendations: As the analysis clearly shows, organisations that have a highly trained and motivated staff boast a distinct competitive advantage over their competitors, therefore to gain this commercial benefit ABC Ltd should: • Establish a routine training program for all new staff that includes ... • Provide all staff with five days’ professional development each year specifically targeted at … • Develop and ongoing mentoring program for …
Remember… • Concentrate on the main ideas • Do not add ideas (even if you have an abundance of related information) • Do not include any personal comments
Finally – how is it assessed! • Criteria Sheet tell you what is required • Depth of knowledge • Quality of analysis of information • Recommendations • Structure of the Brief • Referencing – APA style
Be Concise! CUT OUT ANY WORDS THAT ADD NO VALUE! OR BETTER STILL: Eliminate unnecessary words! • You have only 500 words +/- 10%with which to work. • Make every word count – choose your words carefully – why use two when one will do?
How to be concise. An example Because the ability to communicate effectively plays an important part in an accountant's success on the job, many employers screen prospective accountants for adequate skills in oral and written communication. In fact, one study shows communication skills to be the most important factor in decisions to hire. Employers view the ability to write and speak effectively as even more important than a prospective employee's academic results.(66 words)
How to do it … Summarise / breakdown your material: • The ability to communicate effectively is important to an accountant's success(11) • It is an important factor in deciding whether or not to hire prospective employees(14) • Employers’ value communication skills more than academic results(8) (Total 33)
Re-assemble the material … Employers value the importance of oral and written communication in accounting, and therefore prefer to hire graduates with effective communication skills. (21 words)
Avoid Wordy phrases • Due to the fact he was unemployed, he had to use public transport. [13 words] • Because he was unemployed, he had to use public transport. (passive) [10 words] • He used public transport because he was unemployed. (active) [8 words]
Reduce fat prepositional phrases • at the present time • basic essentials • as a matter of fact • in the event that • in this modern world • in accordance with • now • essentials • in fact • if • today • with
RemoveFillerssuch as… it, thatand there • There are three trusses that the beam rests on. The beam rests on three trusses. • There were six workers absent from the night shift. Six workers were absent from the night shift. • It is obvious that we must meet the deadline. Obviously we must meet the deadline.
Use Transitional ExpressionsComparison (= Similarity) preferably single word transitions • in the same way • just so … as • furthermore • in addition • as well as • the same • like • equally • both • also • each of • similarly
Use Transitional ExpressionsContrast (= Difference)preferably single word transitions • on the other hand • on the contrary • whereas • in contrast • in spite of • different from • except for • yet • instead of • conversely • unlike • still • but • while
Use everyday words • Long, Heavy, Formal • wherewithal • cognizant • germane • nadir • remuneration • salient • Everyday words • means • aware • relevant • low point • pay • important
Avoid Foreign phrases Do not use • bona fide • in toto • milieu • modus operandi • raison d'être Use • genuine • altogether • surroundings • method • primary reason, justification
Sentences – use short sentences in a Brief • All sentences have a Subject → Verb → Object • Write in the active NOT passive voice For example: • Passive: The door was closed by Adam. • Active: Adam closed the door.
Using References • You use citations and references to: • support your ideas and arguments using expert facts or ideas • acknowledge (to give credit for) facts and ideas you have used • avoid plagiarism.
There are two parts to a reference • The in text citation • Located in the text of your essay • Can be direct quote, paraphrase, summary • Includes some of the details of your source • The reference list entry • Located at the end of your essay • Includes all the details of all source/s used • Different to Bibliography
Referencing In text - citations References Citation 1 Reference 1 Citation 2 Reference 2 Reference 3 Citation 3 Reference 4 Citation 4 Citation 5
Example of Paraphrasing • Original (Direct quote) “A new piece of independent study proves for the first time that in-store sampling not only has dramatic sales impact on the day of the sampling event, but also increases sales of established products and line extensions, as well as new products, for many weeks following” (Stanton, 2009, p.1). (46 words) • Paraphrase In-store sampling has now been shown to create increases in sales in all lines of a product – new, existing and extended – not only when sampling takes place but also in the period directly following the event. (Stanton, 2009) (36 words)
Example of Summarising There are a range of strategies to use when marketing a product and a slogan is one of the key tools. Miller (2008) believes that slogans need to brief and memorable so that consumers recall the slogan and link it to the product. Miller’s article is on the importance of a slogan in marketing a product. The second sentence is a summary of one of the main ideas in the article.
References using APA Style – some points to consider Indented Directory of small businesses in Australia. (2003). Melbourne, Vic: McMillan Institute of Telecommunications. (2008). Report on the telecommunications industry (Report No. 08-1145). Sydney, NSW: Corporate Publishing Limited Latest advertisements. [Video]. (2009, November4). Retrieved from http://youtube.com/watch?v+ybg69342 MacDonald, N. (2004, December 7). Working overseas. The Courier Mail. Retrieved from http://couriermail.com.au McCulloch, R. & Reid, A. (2010). Starting Your Business Degree: academic skills for success. Brisbane, Qld: Print Australia. Turner, K. Ireland, L. Krenus, B. & Pointon, L. (2008) Essential Academic Skills. Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press Alphabetical Order A range of Scholarly Sources
7 point editing guide • Is the purpose of the brief clear? • Is the language simple, economical and clear? • Is everything there that needs to be there? • Is there anything there that is not essential to the purpose?
7 point editing guide • Is the brief easy to read, understand and remember? • Do the sections lead logically from one to another? • Has the brief been carefully edited and proofread?
Remember – If in doubt - questions are the answer You should consult • The assignment task sheet • Your lecture notes • Your textbook You can talk to… • Your tutor or the unit’s e-tutor • Your colleagues in class • Student Learning Advisers – located in B113a • Consultation with a 4S tutor