Briefing meetings can be a minefield for the less experienced researcher; no-one wants to contribute nothing, but equally you worry you say something superfluous or even — heaven forbid — stupid. So the first AQR Breakfast Bites session ‘How to boss a briefing meeting’ was a great opportunity to explore how to justify your presence, and make an impact.

This interactive session was hosted by Kat Cunningham of Hope and Anchor and Ruth Mann of Pentland, which added an interesting client/researcher dynamic to the mix.

As someone who has been to their fair share of briefing meetings, my expectation for the session was that it would act as a welcome reminder of best practice. But as well as covering all the basic principles of decoding a brief, the session also highlighted some important behavioural tips and techniques:

1. The pitch starts the moment you walk into your client’s reception area. Be enthusiastic, confident and engaged. Really show them that you have a keen interest in their work and their brand.

2. Have a presence. It’s important to be aware of how you portray yourself, not just in terms of what you say, but also in terms of your body language. Cue some Amy Cuddy style power posing!

3. Have a role. You can and should contribute: talk to your more senior colleagues and agree on which aspect of the meeting you are going to manage (be it sampling, methodology, etc.).

Not only did the session offer up some great advice, but Kat and Ruth also fostered an informal, fun and supportive environment, too (which is definitely hard to do so early in the morning).

I’d really like to see more AQR training to further equip me for the next stage in my career, such as tips on developing my proposal writing skills or a deeper understanding of the broader context of research and what happens after you’ve delivered your debrief. If these topics were tackled in a similarly engaging way as this session, I'd definitely sign up!