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Lecture 5: Writing Effective Business Memos. 2 Writing Effective Business Memos I.Three -part memo structure A. Heading B. Structure of the message C.

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture 5: Writing Effective Business Memos. 2 Writing Effective Business Memos I.Three -part memo structure A. Heading B. Structure of the message C."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture 5: Writing Effective Business Memos

2 2 Writing Effective Business Memos I.Three -part memo structure A. Heading B. Structure of the message C. Say it in one page

3 3 II. Psychological considerations on writing memos A.Managing memos to respect your colleagues’ territory B.Managing memos to protect your own territory III. Survival techniques for the novice memo writer (Neman & Smythe, 1992, pp. 148 - 149) Writing Effective Business Memos

4 4 IV.Strategies for writing business memos A.Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish B.Should always carry a schedule for action C.Be brief; simple; clear; specific and precise

5 5 Three-part Memo Structure  Heading  To:Name, (title), and department of addressee  From:Name, (title), and department  Subject: (Headline) -- to expedite the reader’s initial understanding Ex:A Low-Cost Way to Reduce Energy Use Ex:The Effectiveness of Reducing Building Temperatures on Weekends  Date Example 1 Example 1  Example 1Example 1 Example 2 Example 2  Example 2Example 2

6 6 Three-part Memo Structure (cont’d)  Structure of the message  Provide a brief statement to orient your reader to the purpose of your memo  Quickly set out the point  Conclude your memo by describing the “next step”, including date(s)  Say it in one page (P & G)  The one-page form dispenses with the nonessential and concentrates on the action points

7 7 Structure of the Message Orient your reader to the purpose of your memo:  As promised, I am returning the XYZ marketing plan draft with comments.  Attached, as you requested, is a revised production schedule for the frozen-carrot-juice carton hangtags.

8 8 Structure of the Message (cont’d) Quickly set out the point of your memo: As discussed, we will convene a meeting in Atlanta on Thursday, April 15 to discuss the year 2005 strategic plan.

9 9 Structure of the Message (cont’d) Conclude your memo by describing the “next step”, including date(s):  I would very much appreciate your getting it to me by Thursday, December 7, so I can --  It would be helpful if your review of the draft could be back in my office by Friday, March 15, so I can incorporate your comments and those from the packaging firm in the final plan draft.

10 10 Psychological Considerations Managing memos to:

11 11 Respect Your Colleagues’ Territory Limit your recommendations to your own turf Be sure you advise and recommend strictly:  on the basis of your own knowledge and responsibility.  only on that part of the problem you have been asked to address.  EX: DO NOT make a technical recommendation on a tax matter if you are in marketing.

12 12 Respect Your Colleagues’ Territory (cont’d) Send a copy to the person who is supposed to be involved  This step is a necessary courtesy. If you have to touch on the subject matter of someone else’s department, send a copy of your memo to the person responsible. Give credit  Acknowledge any help you have had in making your recommendation or formulating your strategy.  EX:  EX: …Jim and Woody, in Insurance, kindly provided the attached tables...

13 13 Respect Your Colleagues’ Territory (cont’d) Do NOT overstep your authority  EX:  EX: …Gary would like the Human Resources managers to send out their letters before the press bulletin is released on Monday.

14 14 Protect Your Own Territory Cover your posterior  What goes around comes around.  The ground rule for “saving your bacon” is to save someone else’s when you have a chance. Do NOT embarrass anyone -- deliberately or inadvertently. Leave a paper trail  Writing a memo provides evidence of the actions taken on a given project. Such a trail not only creates a record of historical and legal value, but can also protect you if the need arises.

15 15 Protect Your Own Territory (cont’d) Chronicle your work and file  For each major project keep a file, including copies of memos and dated copies of all the written work you have generated for the project.  EX: Portfolio Record oral agreements  After a meeting or discussion, write down your understanding of what you agreed to do and send it as a memo to the person(s) involved. Such confirmation memos help avoid misunderstandings.

16 16 Protect Your Own Territory (cont’d) Confirm telephone conversations  After a telephone conversation, you are well advised to follow up and confirm key calls with a written memo.

17 17 More Survival Techniques for the Novice Memo Writer  Avoid remarks that may cause strong feelings.  Avoid embarrassing.  Present each situation in the best possible light.  Keep your ears open.  When you’re new, find a comfortable, helpful, experienced co-worker to act as your mentor.  Until you are experienced, don’t send any memo that your supervisor has not seen before its dispatch.  Even after you have experience, give your supervisor the opportunity to approve - or at least to be informed about - your actions or recommendations whenever the topic is potentially sensitive.  The higher in the hierarchy the source of a directive to you is, the higher the priority for the work, and the sooner the deadline for your memo. (See Supplementary Reading for details) Source: Neman, B., & Smythe, S. (1992). Writing effectively in business. New York: HarperCollins.

18 18 ~ The End ~


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