Communicating Up!
Presentation of Analysis, Briefings and Reports
In support to Executive Decision-Making

Analysis Reporting Best Practices for Civil Agencies
Based on the “BLUF” writing style used by the U.S. Intelligence Community

This course is available for On-Site Training only. We will bring this course to your agency or company.
Contact Don Dickson, On-Site Training Manager at (301) 455-5633 or

About this course

Executive briefings and reports should be tailored to the unique needs of the recipient decision makers. In both private and public sector organizations, senior managers – much like intelligence consumers at senior levels of national security entities – need analytical and support products that address real problems, focus on future events, begin with conclusions, and contain only necessary information. Such written products are constructed in a way that is distinctly different from reports or briefing scripts produced in academic and journalistic genres.

This course presents a report format that has been perfected in the US Intelligence Community, and is ideally suited to decision makers’ needs.  GTI has designed a training program to help clients adopt and adapt this proven writing methodology in support of a broad range of commercial and governmental managerial requirements. Additionally, written products coming from a team of analysts will be consistent in format and style – simplifying the reader’s time needed to find key data and conclusions.

Over the course of three days, participants will improve their writing styles and briefing techniques so that their communications will be clearer, better organized, and more useful. To do this, participants will learn to write and brief according to the standards and style perfected by the U.S. Intelligence Community: accurate, brief, and clear language; the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) format; executive summaries; and peer editing. The training program includes many “hands-on” writing and briefing exercises that allow participants to apply the principles and methods being taught. Practical case scenarios reinforce learning.

What you will learn: The Standards.

Accurate, Brief and Clear language: Carefully crafted language greatly reduces the likelihood that a manager will misinterpret information provided by his/her analysts and, as a result, make a decision that is contrary to the interests of the organization. Writing and briefing with accuracy, brevity, and clarity is essential to effective communication with businessmen at all levels, but especially with busy executives.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) format: Effective communicators get right to the point, which is why BLUF—a format that summarizes paragraph content in the first sentence - is an efficient way to communicate with Executives. BLUF readers locate and comprehend key points immediately.

Executive Summaries: Executive summaries are a short summation of a report’s most important points and vital to decision makers in fast-paced environment. While summaries are often challenging to construct, participants will find the task far less daunting after learning tips from the Intelligence experience. For example, as a rule of thumb, intelligence analysts provide an Executive Summary when more than three paragraphs or one page of content follow. In this course, participants will determine when and why to utilize executive summaries in their own company and agency cultures.

Peer Editing: While few absolutes exist in the business world, everyone needs an editor; no one writes a perfect first draft. Additionally, learning to edit helps writers improve their own work and is a professional obligation to their peers. Opportunities to exchange and critique writing samples, including as “peer editors”, will be provided throughout the seminar.

Briefing Tips and Techniques: In this course, potential briefers learn to avoid major pitfalls of briefing presentation and execution. Even if a presenter’s briefing script meets all of the stylistic requirements of good English grammar, a poorly conceived presentation or a flawed delivery can interfere with successful communication, and may leave the target executive frustrated and asking for additional information. Our goal is to answer the questions completely the first time, by avoiding common pitfalls and applying common elements of successful intelligence briefing techniques.

Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Audiences: Each type of audience has unique information requirements tied to either Areas of Responsibility and/or ad hoc decisions at hand. For Executive Reports and Briefings, “Know your customer/ audience” clearly applies.

Participants will explore how to incorporate:

  • Tips for reaching a variety of audiences
  • Lessons-learned, Traps to Avoid
  • A Five Step process for creating decision supporting analysis, briefings and reports.
  • An actionable check list for each focus.
In summary, workshop participants will become even more valued as writers and briefers, conveying good information in a time sensitive, consistent presentation manner.

Participants will:

  • Recognize the tight connection between thought and language, and understand why good communication and organization are impossible without sharp writing skills
  • Distinguish between intelligence writing and writing in other intellectual professions
  • Employ accurate, brief, and clear English prose
  • Demonstrate techniques for clear writing and constructive editing
  • Demonstrate techniques for presenting clear briefings, including the construction of clear, concise, and accurate PowerPoint and other media presentations
  • Apply methods and procedures unique to writing and briefing for strategic decision makers
  • Evaluate and understand the needs of their own management, and respond to these special demands and requirements more effectively.

Who should attend?

  • Analysts and staff members who write reports or present briefings for decision makers or executive work teams
  • Managers who want to develop or enhance their staff members’ or analysts’ writing and presentation capabilities, through top-down modeling, mentoring or creation of communication policy
  • Other professionals who wish to enhance their abilities to communicate analysis and supporting data more effectively by bringing Intelligence Best Practices into Corporate America.

Course agenda

Over a 3-day period workshop participants will explore the following topics via a combination of lecture, discussion, case studies and hands-on learning exercises:
  • Planning and Implementation of Decision Reports and Briefings: how do I plan and manage this work?
  • Writing and Briefing with Accuracy, Brevity, and Clarity: why is this a necessary skill and how can I achieve it?
  • Writing and Briefing in the Bottom Line Up Front Format: why is this an effective practice? and how must I format my reports and briefings to most benefit my audience?
  • Reports and Briefings for Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Audiences: how do I know which information my manager or colleagues need?
  • Creating Titles, Executive Summaries, and Introductions: how do I create titles, executive summaries, and introductions that front-load and highlight the information my reader most needs, and how do I provide this information at the right level – no more, no less?
  • Building and Briefing from PowerPoint and other media tools: how do I best build and present informative and memorable briefings in a clear, thorough and relaxed way?