The BLUF Method
How to instantly improve your communication
Welcome to the new readers who've joined this week.
If you're not subscribed, click the subscribe button below and join 3,200+ others getting simple tips to make you a better writer, every week.
Sarah is a manager at a tech company.
One morning, she presented a proposal to senior leadership regarding a project her team was working on.
She began with a long introduction.
She covered the history of the project, the various stakeholders and deep technical details.
About 30 minutes in, she made the main recommendation of the proposal:
Invest in a new software tool that would save time and money.
By this point, most of the executives had lost interest.
They didn’t understand the significance of Sarah’s recommendation or the impact it could make at the company.
The proposal didn’t move forward, and the presentation wasn’t a good reflection of Sarah’s communication and leadership skills.
What was Sarah missing?
The BLUF method.
What is the BLUF method?
Sarah is a made-up character.
But I bet all of you can relate to the above story of being in a meeting — or reading an email — that drags on and on.
The BLUF method stands for “Bottom Line Up Front.”
It’s a powerful communication technique used to convey the most important information first.
To use the BLUF method effectively:
start with the main point first
provide essential supporting details
recap the main point at the end to reinforce
This method works great both in writing and when speaking.
When is the BLUF method most effective?
This method is best when you need to communicate concisely.
Maybe you have 5 minutes to make a point
Maybe your audience is busy or distracted
Maybe you want your email to stand out
It’s also effective when your audience isn’t familiar with the topic, or when you’re discussing complex or technical subject matter.
In most professional environments, the BLUF method should be your default communication technique.
How can the BLUF method improve your communication?
There are many ways.
Among the most impactful:
Clear and concise messaging: By presenting the bottom line upfront, your communication is more effective and efficient.
Saves time: It cuts right to the point, saving both you and your audience time.
Increased engagement: Because your audience will quickly understand the point, they’ll remain engaged and interested.
Improved comprehension: Providing the main point up front makes it easier for your audience to comprehend and retain what you’re sharing.
Demonstrates professionalism: Clear, concise and actionable communication is highly impressive.
When you communicate in this fashion, you will:
build trust and credibility
demonstrate leadership ability
persuade others more effectively
And many other benefits that will help advance your career.
Now, let’s give a few examples of BLUF in action.
A marketing manager writing an email
Here’s an example of BLUF used in a business email:
Subject: Proposal for New Marketing Campaign
Bottom Line Up Front: We recommend launching a new social media campaign to increase sales by 20%.
Over 80% of our current customers follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter
Our campaign will consist of targeted ads on these platforms that speak directly to our audience's needs
Estimated timeline and costs: $50,000 over three months
Expected results: we project the campaign will result in a 20% increase in sales, generating $500,000 in revenue
You’d likely add a conclusion to this email, but you get the point.
You know immediately what the email is recommending, and you get the essential supporting details for that recommendation.
A middle school teacher writing to parents
Here’s an example of how a teacher writing to parents may use BLUF:
Subject: Parent-Teacher Conference
Bottom Line Up Front: Henry is making excellent progress in math. I recommend continuing his current math study habits and routine.
Henry has consistently scored above average on math assessments this semester
He’s demonstrating a strong understanding of concepts taught
In class, he’s asking insightful questions and engaging in group discussions
To continue this progress, I recommend continuing Henry’s current study habits, including reviewing class notes and completing homework assignments.
A mom talking to her teenagers
Here’s an example of how a mom may use BLUF while talking to her teenagers:
We need to establish new guidelines for screen time to promote healthier habits and better sleep (Bottom Line Up Front).
Excessive screen time can lead to disrupted sleep and other bad habits.
I’ve noticed we are all spending more time on our devices, which is interfering with other things such as exercise and household chores.
Going forward, I propose we limit screen time during meal times, homework time and before bed.
Do you agree?
To recap, BLUF stands for “Bottom Line Up Front.”
It’s a powerful technique to promote more effective and concise communication.
This technique is important in both writing and speaking, as it can help you avoid confusion, disengagement, and frustration.
As you can see in the examples above, you can use the BLUF method in almost any situation where you need to communicate an important message.
Hope this helps!
More on BLUF 👉 How to write email with military precision
1:1 consulting call?
FYI: I offer a few 1:1 consulting calls each month to help folks:
build their personal brands
grow their social media audience
improve their writing
If you’d like personal help with any of the above — or something else related to writing or social media — reply to this email with “1:1 call.”
Thanks for reading!