Briefing Ministers and Senior Officials

A face to face presentation to your Assistant Deputy Minister, senior management team, Deputy Minister or Minister can be a career-defining moment for any public service executive. You know your subject but can you communicate it effectively? How will you be remembered after, rising star or the opposite? Happily, successful face-to-face briefing is a learned skill, and there are proven techniques which can help you excel in this challenging task.

The Program

The two-day course will provide an opportunity for you to increase your oral and written briefing skills in a safe environment and learn the keys to preparing and delivering presentations to public sector decision-makers. It will cover the real-world preferences of senior officials and Ministers, the most common questions they ask and advanced techniques for briefing them effectively. The course is highly interactive and practical. It will enable you to experiment with various real-world scenarios such as the elevator briefing, the five-minute briefing on a complex file, the PowerPoint presentation to a committee and the briefing in a Minister’s office. You will get feedback from peers and one-on-one coaching from the instructor, and come away with new skills you can apply with confidence on return to the job.

Course Topics:

  • Understanding your audience: the senior official or Minister’s perspective;
  • Getting to the key issue;
  • Telling a story concisely;
  • How to plan a successful briefing;
  • Tips for delivering your briefing: body language, voice and keeping the audience’s interest;
  • Elements of good briefing notes, decks and PowerPoint presentations;
  • Tips for preparing or delivering an effective briefing under time pressure.

Who Should Attend

The course is for public service executives, senior policy analysts and senior specialists who have briefing experience but want to enhance their skills.

David Holdsworth


The program is delivered by a highly experienced practitioner. David Holdsworth is a former Senior Assistant Deputy Minister and Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet in the Privy Council Office with over thirty years experience briefing Prime Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers. During the past fifteen years as a consultant, he has conducted more than fifty programs in policy writing and briefing in public sector departments and agencies. 




Centre on Public Management and Policy
University of Ottawa
Odell House, 180 Waller Street South
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 9B9


$950 + tax

Included in the fee are: course materials, meals, coffee/tea and parking on campus.

To Register

Registration is not available as there are no course dates scheduled.

If you have questions regarding the registration process, please contact Guylaine Morin-Cléroux at, phone: 613-796-6100

Please read our cancellation policy.

For further Information on the Course

Please contact David Holdsworth at

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