memorandum writing

memorandum writing

Effective Strategies for Writing Memos in the Workplace

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1. Introduction to Memorandum Writing

This chapter examines what makes a memo as effective as possible. First, readers learn that a good memo has two essential qualities: it is clear, and it emphasizes an organizational problem or situation that requires action. The term “clear” refers to the clarity of the content presented in the memo – how the information is arranged and conveyed on the page. In relation to the difficulty that readers might have with jargon and unclear explanations, the expression “reader-friendly writing” describes a memo to which most readers respond positively. To help create reader-friendly memos, writers can organize the content so that it seems easy for readers to understand. Second, for a memo to be useful, it must have a good reason for being written – a good purpose. The purpose of the memo authorizes the memo and gives it significance. Its purpose describes why you should spend time reading it. Unnecessary memos waste company time and resources.

A memorandum, or memo, is a brief document used for communication in a business or government office setting. A memo is generally concise – usually just one or two pages long. The tone of memos can take a variety of forms, including professional, conversational, firm, and friendly. The basic organization and purpose of a memo is the same as that of a conversation; both are used to make decisions about concerns, clarify situations, or solve problems.

2. Key Components of a Memo

To be effective, your memo needs to be clear and concise. Even those who are directly affected do not have the time to read a lengthy and descriptive memorandum unless they want to. When writing any form of business communication, always ensure your understanding of the intended audience. Keep in mind the activity, interest, and knowledge of the people who are reading. Address, explain, and ensure to answer the audience’s questions in the memo document. If the audience does not have a clear understanding of what is being addressed, it is likely that the issue may not be resolved. Be sure to use clear and concise language and guidelines on what need to be executed to address the issue of concern. Your goal is to communicate in a way that is effective for the reader.

5. Cost or Benefit: Identifies any follow-up work or resolution that is needed as well as potential drawbacks or future benefits. Also clarifies any costs or benefits that may be incurred and to whom.

4. Solution or Action: Describes the specifics of what will be done to address this issue.

3. Task: Explains what actions will be taken regarding this issue.

2. Context: Provides necessary background information for the issue at hand.

1. Issue: Clearly states the issue.

A memo has a header that clearly indicates who sent the memo and who the intended recipients are. Writing an effective memo requires the knowledge of writing in conventional business format. An effective memo has 5 key components: issue, context, task, solution or action, and cost or benefit.

3. Best Practices for Writing Clear and Concise Memos

Transactional Communication identifies the relationship between the communicator and the receiver. This strategic message contains information that reacts to a specific situation or explains a specific matter. For regular communication, the sender is likely to relay basic information like billing changes, phone extensions, or new parking space information. The types of messages likely to be relayed here include announcements of new employees, departures of employees, and changes or additions in services or products. Communicators who use the transactional method of communication generally want a response. Typically, a response solicited is explicit (What types of food do you like at an upcoming luncheon? What was the actual call problem invoicing from a recent phone call?), but in some situations, the response is inferred (I see only two of my co-workers have RSVP’d for the company picnic already, so maybe they will share transportation with me. or Since the CEO has commissioned us to examine client retention questions, I wonder if we might see our holiday bonuses threatened if we don’t draft a plan for the company loss?). In the corporate environment, both types of responses are valuable and desirable. When it’s time to transmit the requested response, the appropriate and desired response from the receiver will be transmitted back to the receiver. Knowing the identity of the transactional communication sender (the management team and/or leader) and its intended purpose (administer policies, updates, and instructions) enables receivers to determine the appropriate way to engage in expected interaction.

Change is an inevitable part of a business. No matter how small or large a company is, changes will occur in management and ownership. Policies, procedures, and office locations change frequently, and the business world is characterized by people coming and going, and occasionally being let go. During such instances, communication from company leadership becomes paramount. An effective scoping communication plan will contain both strategic messages and tactics for these changes. This is where a transactional communication strategy can be useful. When dealing with issues such as changes within a company, immediate implementation is a must. Provision of information, solicitation of feedback, and engagement of buy-in are paramount for the successful utilization of such a communication plan.

In today’s fast-paced and dynamic business environment, employees are accountable for many tasks and responsibilities. Communication needs to be efficient and effective in the manner in which it’s delivered and received, in such a way that business goals are met. This is why communicating with purpose is so important. Good communication practices allow for prearranged outcomes and deliverables.

4. Tips for Formatting and Structuring Memos

Papers follow an established format characterized by a heading, clear definition of purpose, itemized contents, and single-spaced business block body with a tale. Minutes can take on a variety of formats, based on meeting purpose and intended audience. Very few discussion memos occur, and they support formal documents.

Memorandums should be brief but informative on only a single subject. Structure and content are basic components of all communication. Memos usually are message byte-sized, so presenting memos in a bottom-line style is easy. Receive single-point memos from upper-level executives, and people do not like to read additional unnecessary materials. They eliminate biased information that customers do not require.

In writing memos, always state your conclusion upfront and limit the remaining content’s explanations to give clear examples that support your position. An excellent strategy for writing memos is to organize the points in order of importance. Generally consider saying only what you would say if you had five minutes or less to talk with upper-level executives. Remember that memos are usually only one page. A slightly longer memo is appropriate in response to a complicated question, but stretching a memo to two pages is usually unnecessary.

Here are a couple of key strategies for crafting the content of memos. Executives report that they usually value bottom-line information. If a memo leaves you feeling confused about what is expected of you, then it has failed to accomplish its objective.

5. Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Before concluding, then, we must speak of the endpoint of this trajectory, workplace writing, including that which is and is not occurring in academic work, as it is a bridge between developing our writing skills in the academy, and carrying these skills into our post-graduation workplaces. Workplace writing, once again, is not only letters, memoranda, progress reports, manuals, technical writing, proposals, reports, operations, and policy statements in which, as we discussed, work tasks are accomplished, but also the entire process of writing that produces many interactions between writers, readers, and third parties to facilitate collaboration, problem solving, sharing information, knowledge construction, and goal accomplishment, and encompasses all that an organization and its stakeholders do with principles and purposes of organization. It is essential that students are not only taught the specific formats and details of a selection of discrete document types (and receive practice in creating them), but also made aware that inter-departmental communication is both necessary and sometimes culturally biased, and be given tips to recognize and deal with bias that may limit effectiveness and success in their communication efforts.

In the work described above, I have sought to provide some background into academic writing skills and their formulation as well as to point out how they may be changed in response to the demands of ‘real-world’ writing tasks. It is clear that it is impossible to take a complete account of these interactions in a single case study but much can still be learned from examining some possible strategies for achieving more effective writing. All of the techniques described above can be used, to some extent, with other documents also beyond the memo. If we believe that students’ ascent up the ladder of educational attainment should be as problem-free as possible, then we should not neglect efforts to improve their written work at the nascent stages and ensure they have strong disciplinary knowledge.

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