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Think about this with me… what are some other words for a “brief”? Either it is “short” or it is from “briefing,” which is how one gets others “up to date.” It’s a “summary”.

Here are some words for what a brief is NOT–in any context–whether you are talking military, business, think tanks, or [in theory] debate: a “study,” “comprehensive,” “ultimate analysis,” or “your strategy.” It may be a strategy guide, but it should never be your strategy.

In business, when a corporate executive gives a briefing, the idea is that he will inspire some vision or some thought and those who hear will implement, using their own ingenuity.

The Mistake: I see debaters trading around and asking for briefs on this and that much more frequently than I see them asking for thoughts on this and that. Even worse, I see debaters blame other people’s briefs for their loss. It’s kind of like we’re searching for someone’s “brief” to be “our strategy”. Even your own briefs shouldn’t be “your strategy”. Nothing can replace thinking — in the moment analysis of your opponent, careful thought into your particular judge/audience, adaptability, looking for the central assumptions and going after them, wit, humor, phraseology, organization, mixing arguments — especially not a “brief.”

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