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The Engaging Courtesy of BLUF

May 31, 2019

BLUF is an acronym for “Bottom Line Up Front,” a triangular approach to communications appreciated by busy people.

Using BLUF when time and attention spans are short makes it more likely your communications are noted and understood.

To speak using a BLUF style: 

  • Pause for a moment to clarify the most important point you want to make,
  • State it succinctly,
  • Follow up with 2-3 critical supporting or explanatory points,
  • And check to see if more is needed before continuing.  As appropriate, you can ask, “What questions do you have?”  Checking body language may also help you read the need to continue or not.

This approach builds executive presence; your communications will sound crisp, clear and confident, and aligned with what your busy listeners need. 

Giving your BLUF when writing emails allows readers to gain a quick understanding even while skimming. 

It helps email recipients quickly determine if they need to read more, reduces the likelihood your email is skipped due to lack of clarity and makes it easier for recipients to find the point of the email again if they need to return to it.

Using a BLUF approach requires thoughtfulness and discipline, but it does get easier with practice. 

Your increasingly engaged audience will appreciate the effort.

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