How to Prepare a Military Briefing

Things You'll Need

  • Relevant data
  • Visual aids as appropriate

Military briefings are a mainstay of armed forces communication. More personal and direct than electronic correspondence, briefings contribute to unit cohesion and maintain the flow of information across the ranks. Preparing a briefing requires you to know your audience -- ranks and duties -- as well as your information and how it is relevant to those present. As a military briefer, it is also your responsibility to coordinate all the logistics of the briefing, such as location, audiovisual support and briefing invitations.

Analyze the situation and determine the type of briefing you'll be giving. Knowing which type will help you to organize your material. There are four main types of military briefings: the information briefing, the decision briefing, the mission briefing and the staff briefing. The information briefing requires you to present facts, without offering any conclusions for the audience. The decision briefing is aimed at giving a leader information he may need to make a decision. You may offer a recommended solution at the end of a decision briefing. The mission briefing is focused on a unit task and includes the exchange of information between attendees. Staff briefings may be a composite of all briefing types and coordinate unit efforts.

Give an introduction. Include your name, rank and organization, followed by the type, classification and purpose of the briefing. Example: "Good morning, Colonel Smith. I'm Lieutenant Jones with the 39th Air Base Group Public Affairs office. This is an unclassified information briefing to bring you up to speed on next week's media events."

Outline what you'll be briefing. Divide the information into clear sections. For example, "During my briefing, I'll be discussing the New York Times interview, the CNN base tour and the Associated Press media flights."

Present the information in a logical sequence. If you are discussing the next week's events, start at the beginning of the week and progress to the end.

Use visual aids when appropriate to make your material more clear to your audience. Assess the briefing room ahead of time to see what resources are available to you; does it have audiovisual capabilities? Could you show maps? A handout may help your audience to follow along and give those present the option of note-taking.

Summarize or restate your main points and ask for questions. If appropriate, make a recommendation.

Show up with a sharp uniform. You don't want anything about your personal appearance to detract from your presentation material.

Observe military customs and courtesies.

Maintain eye contact.

Know your material well.

Be enthusiastic and energetic in your presentation -- this can be contagious.

A military briefing is not the venue for trying out your stand-up comedy skills; use humor sparingly or not at all.

Likewise, your audience is not interested in hearing about every operation you've ever been in. Keep personal anecdotes brief and relevant if you choose to include them.

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