Importance of Brief for meetings
Busy bosses wearing multiple hats normally spend most of their time in meetings.
Very often, they will either be conducting the meetings or participate in such meetings as members. And, in all such cases they often receive the agenda papers, just a few days before the actual meeting takes place. It is therefore very difficult for them to go through the agenda papers, often bulky, with many items for consideration and approval etc. What do they do? Well, very often, they depend on their personal executives, staff officers or other such senior members, concerned with the subject for a detailed brief.
It is based on such briefs that they are able to convey their views on the various items that come up. This underscores the importance of a brief on the agenda papers for the meetings.
Based on my own experience, I could prepare very useful briefs for my various bosses with whom I had opportunity to work.
The most important occasions when I rejoiced on finding my brief useful for the bosses are given below.
It was the second meeting of the Governing Council of CDAC which was chaired at that time by Hon’ble Minister for Science & Technology, Shri K.R. Narayanan. For this meeting I not only reformatted the agenda originally consisting of 27 items into Five Agenda items only by properly grouping some of the items, but also I prepared a one full page (noting sheet) brief explaining the approach to be taken by the Chairman. Dr. Bhatkar, who met the Chairman gave him the brief which fully satisfied him. And, at the meeting he exactly followed taking/introducing each item the way the brief mentioned. And lo, when Dr. Bhatkar returned to the office, after that, he was delighted how useful the Chairman found the brief and mentioned this to me.
Another instance was during my association with the Science Advisory Council to Prime Minister. Here again, while the agenda items included even some technical matters, I used to prepare briefs for the meetings for use by Chairman and invariably, he found it very useful and almost followed the strategy outlined in the brief, while taking up each item of the agenda.
Yet another instance was during my association with Prof.M.G.K. Menon, who, besides his main position, used to wear many hats. Two such positions he held related to the Chairmanship of the Governing Council of Indian Institute of Astrophysics, and the Chairmanship of the India International Centre. The agenda items for their meetings meant bulky papers which would not allow him to study the papers fully. On such occasions, I, on my own, used to prepare briefs on the agenda items making his task easier. On one occasion, during the meeting of the Finance Committee of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, when the meeting started, he asked me to give him only the one page brief that I had prepared, rather than the agenda papers. I was immensely pleased when he finished the meeting, where he used all the suggestions given in my brief. The other Member in that meeting, apart from representative of IIA, was the Joint Secretary, Finance of the Ministry of Civil Aviation under which IIA operated. While Prof, Menon took up each item and gave his decisions, based on my note, the Joint Secretary looked at me, somewhat amazed. What a joy it was for me!
Some tips I had learnt myself in preparing such briefs were: study the agenda items in detail, analyze the points contained, keep in mind the background of the Institution/Council etc., keep in mind the manner in which the person conducting the meeting will
normally act, and give the best possible approach/solution to the proposal contained in each item of the agenda. And, you can gradually master this art of preparing briefs for meetings, including major ones.