Every now and then we have a project we are working on and need to touch base with another team to request their support. It might be so early in the process that a detailed brief is not yet available, but you do have an idea of what is needed. Below are some key details you can consider including into your request to provide a snapshot of the project requirements.  

Project title: 
Objective(s): 
Deliverable(s): 
Target audience: 
Timeframe:

Think of these like the classic who/what/where/when/why/how formula. You can knuckle out all the other specifics later in the process if you do not want to include them in the opening conversation. Also, it is ok if you do not have all the details confirmed. You can instead say something along the lines of:  

“The exact number of videos required is yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to be 3-5 videos at this stage.” 

“We won’t need this until Session 1, 2021. I have availability to work on this and organize my team for recording etc in August this year.” 

“The date, time and location of the event has not been decided yet, but we are thinking two hours, on-campus towards the end of November.” 

Proving precision and clarity around the project requirements is helpful for the recipient of your request. This front-loads the key information at first contact and avoids the potential email/phone ping pong in trying to confirm these details. Of course, a phone call can resolve all of this but even that relies on the chance that you are both at your desks and available when the call is made.  

From here, your contact can then set up a meeting (if required) to go over the strategy/specifics and arrange next steps. Providing the key information ahead of time allows your contact to digest that information and then prepare questions and solutions to discuss at the meeting versus discovering the key information then and there.  

A fun analogy I would like to share is my experiences ordering fast food with my dad. My dad has a background in engineering and is meticulously precise in almost everything he does. I say almost because one example where this is not the case is when we would go out for fast-food. Whether at the drive-through or in-person at the counter he would begin his order by politely saying (paraphrased): 

Dad: Hi, can I get 4 burgers and drinks please? 
Cashier: Sure, would you like those in meals? 
Dad: Yes please 
Cashier: And what size meals would you like? 
Dad: Make them all large please 
Cashier: Sure, and what drinks would you like? 
Dad: Ooh, can I get 2 Lifts and 2 Sprites please

Etc... 

I became aware of this around the time I was working my first job at McDonalds (back when McFlurry’s came with special spoons!). I was 16 years old, worked front-end at the registers and would experience this same kind of ordering process from customers every shift! I would say “Dad! You can save the back and forth by saying the whole order in one go”. He would reply “that’s a good idea actually!” and then proceed to do the same thing next time. I’m sure he would only continue doing that to stir me up for a laugh.

I am not suggesting to provide the exact same project brief as above the next time you’re out ordering fast food… 

Project title: Don't feel like cooking 
Objective(s): Satisfy hunger 
Deliverable(s): Large burger meal with vanilla Coke 
Target audience: My stomach 
Timeframe: 10 minutes?  

…only to think about and consider what key information can be front-loaded in the opening communications of a project request.  

This is by no means a bulletproof script to follow, but it should cover most bases when it comes to requesting support for your projects. Change it up to include whatever details work best for you in the context of your project.

Feel free to share any tips, experiences or ideas you may have in the comments section below!  

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Posted by Michael Garganera

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