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Lecture 5: Writing Effective Business Memos

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture 5: Writing Effective Business Memos"— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture 5: Writing Effective Business Memos

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

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

4 Writing Effective Business Memos
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 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 2

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 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 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 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 Psychological Considerations
Managing memos to:

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 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: …Jim and Woody, in Insurance, kindly provided the attached tables...

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

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 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 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 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 ~ The End ~

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