When people learn to prepare papers and presentations for senior audiences they often focus on improving ‘writing' and ‘slide making' skills.

These are useful and often taught as though the paper or presentation is prepared by one individual.

However, in my experience this is often not the case.

Engaging senior audiences to make a recommendation or to update is a collaborative effort.

So, how to collaborate?

The first step is to decide who you should involve in the process, particularly at the initial scoping session.

I recommend inviting everyone who will have a role in preparing the paper, including more junior team members who may only focus on discrete sections.

You may also think a bit expansively to include people with these three Es:

  • Expertise: Are they familiar with the problem or have a usefully different perspective? Most likely they will have been involved in working on the issue, but it may be useful to think more broadly for higher stakes communication.
  • Evaluative ability: Do they think deeply about things, and are they a smart thinker? Sometimes it helps to have people outside of the context who bring raw intelligence to the effort. Involving them may be a useful way to help them learn more about the issue while also contributing to the communication.
  • Elevation: Do they have sufficient visibility of the strategic environment to help link your narrative to the broader business objectives? You may bring sufficient visibility on your own, or equally, you may bring someone senior into the session to share their perspective. It could be the person who commissioned the paper, someone who owns the relevant strategy or someone who knows the stakeholder group well.

In briefing the whole team, you will increase the chances of clarifying a message that hits the right notes with less effort from you all.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards,


PS – We will go into this and much more in my upcoming Board Paper Bootcamp. Learn more here.