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How to write an effective policy brief

October 14, 2022
9:00 AM EDT - 12:30 PM EDT
Online via Zoom
About the workshop:

Policy briefs are becoming increasingly relied upon by policy makers to help them canvas a wide range of perspectives and evidence to inform their decisions. They are also an important tool to help researchers share their insights and evidence with a broader community and build a reputation as an expert. Ultimately, policy briefs are a critical step in making research results known so that the work will have impact in the wider world. Not all briefs are effective, however. Writing concise and persuasive briefs, and knowing how to best present the evidence, takes knowledge and practice. In this workshop, participants reviewed the audiences for policy briefs and their information needs, and explored the best practices in writing and distributing the policy brief.   

In this workshop, participants learned:   

  • What is the role of policy briefs in the policy decision-making process?
  • Who is the audience of a policy brief and what do we need to know about them?
  • What are the key components of effective policy briefs?
  • How do we best present evidence?
  • What are the steps to writing a policy brief?

How this workshop will be delivered:

The interactive workshop was a combined group discussion and had time allocated for group and individual practice. Materials were shared in advance and formed the basis for group discussions and individual work.

9–10:05 AM – Introduction and Understanding the policy process and the audiences for a policy

  • What is a policy brief?
  • Who is a policy brief for?
  • The role of the policy brief in policy decision making
  • Different types of recipients of policy briefs, their context and how we reach them; with a brief walk through on how to develop an audience matrix  
  • The elements of an effective policy brief, including the importance of using data as evidence and the many considerations
  • The challenges and pitfalls confronting academic writers

10:05-10:20 AM – Group Exercise #1 

10:35-11 AM – Steps to get started

Organizing the structure, identifying the primary focus, key messages, language and graphic considerations for presenting evidence      

11-11:50 AM – Group Exercise #2

12:20–12:30 PM – Wrap-Up

  • Feedback on group work
  • Discussion on how to put our finished brief in the hands of policy makers
About the workshop leaders:

Naomi Alboim is a Senior Policy Fellow at CERC Migration, Toronto Metropolitan University and a Distinguished Fellow at the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University. Naomi has worked at senior levels in the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments for twenty-five years. She held the post of Deputy Minister for eight years in three different portfolios, which included immigration. Naomi is an active public policy consultant and has advised governments and NGOs across Canada, in Europe, the Caribbean, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ghana, Kenya and South Korea.

Laura Matthews is the Marketing and Communications Manager at CERC Migration, Toronto Metropolitan University. Laura has led communications teams in university and research environments for over twenty years and has worked extensively with researchers to develop communications materials appropriate for a range of audiences from government and donors, to stakeholders and the media. She has an MSc in Media & Communications from the London School of Economics.


All workshops are being offered free of charge. Our workshops are often oversubscribed and we maintain a waiting list. We ask that you please cancel your registration if you are no longer able to attend. We appreciate your understanding.