2 Writing Effective Business Memos I. Three -part memo structureA. HeadingB. Structure of the messageC. Say it in one page
3 Writing Effective Business Memos II. Psychological considerations on writing memosManaging memos to respect your colleagues’ territoryManaging memos to protect your own territoryIII. Survival techniques for the novice memo writer (Neman & Smythe, 1992, pp )
4 Writing Effective Business Memos IV. Strategies for writing business memosA. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplishB. Should always carry a schedule for actionC. Be brief; simple; clear; specific and precise
5 Three-part Memo Structure HeadingTo: Name, (title), and department of addresseeFrom: Name, (title), and departmentSubject: (Headline) -- to expedite the reader’s initial understandingEx: A Low-Cost Way to Reduce Energy UseEx: The Effectiveness of Reducing Building Temperatures on WeekendsDateExample 1Example 2
6 Three-part Memo Structure (cont’d) Structure of the messageProvide a brief statement to orient your reader to the purpose of your memoQuickly set out the pointConclude 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 turfBe sure you advise and recommend strictly:on the basis of your own knowledge andresponsibility.only on that part of the problem you have beenasked to address.EX: DO NOT make a technical recommendationon 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 involvedThis 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 creditAcknowledge 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 authorityEX: …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 posteriorWhat 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 trailWriting 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 fileFor 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: PortfolioRecord oral agreementsAfter 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 conversationsAfter 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.