Tue, May 14 2013

Better meetings: BLUF and the three WHATs

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Nonprofit leadership •

Last year, I was talking about the critical importance of getting to the point quickly in meetings - and in messages - and a friend who is in the Navy taught me about BLUF.  That’s the acronym they use in the military for Bottom Line Up Front.  In a military setting, BLUF communications allow people to grasp the essence of a situation immediately and seek details only as necessary.  It’s like a Cliff Notes for every situation. 

More recently, a reader wrote me with this nifty list, also from the military.  Always describe:

What’s what.
So what.
What next.

If you’re in a meeting that is focused on getting to the bottom of an important situation, these are great guides.  Encourage people to cite their headlines from the start.  It not only saves time, it ensures the communicator has a point in the first place.

  • Comment: (2)   


I’ve been a proponent of BLUF for years. I find it especially useful in internal communications coupled with a goal of writing an email that does not have a vertical scroll bar. It’s prevents what journalists call “burying the lede.”

I hadn’t heard of the three what’s but I’m going to use them now.

Posted by Glenn  on  05/14  at  10:40 AM

If everyone worked like this we wouldn’t have the pleasure of 4 hour meetings.  What would we do then? grin

Posted by Gareth  on  05/21  at  03:45 PM

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