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Help Me Write a Better Business Memo
Memos are a quick way to pass information along. It can be frustrating, however, to receive a memo with an unclear message. To make sure that your memos get the point across, follow these helpful pointers:
1) Use Lists
Memos are, by their very definition, brief. Therefore, you can get away with using point form. Lists are a great way to convey your expectations without being too wordy. Take a look at how this memo effectively uses a list:
"RE: Thursday's Conference
We are 90% ready for Thursday's conference, but I need you to check on the following:
- RSVP status for the McClintocks
- Finalize arrival time of caterers
- Projector setup by IT department
As you can see, lists help pass along a lot of details without taking up too much time or space. Use lists when you can so that your memos can be as efficient as possible.
2) Start With a Heading
Unfortunately, the fact that memos are short means that your recipients may dismiss them as unimportant. It may seem unreasonable, but some of your memos may not even be read by a busy (or lazy) audience.
To avoid this, make your memos stand out by including a headline with each one. A headline is a fantastic way to get the most important part of your memo out there immediately for your readers to see. Once your headline tells them that your memo contains essential information, they will be more likely to give the rest of it a closer look.
3) Include all Information
The brevity of memos can be wonderful, but you do need to make sure you communicate everything, or you'll just end up creating more work for yourself. For example, if you're using a memo to take a telephone message, make sure you include who called and when, what their message was, and how to call them back. If you forget any of these details, your memo will be practically pointless.
As you can see, it's very important not to sacrifice the content of your memo simply because memos are normally brief. If you can't fit all of the information you need into a memo, opt instead to write a letter or an e-mail. It's better to include all of the information you need to transmit than it is to omit critical details simply for the sake of making your message short.
4) Make Your Memo Clear
Don't underestimate your little memo; to make it understandable, you need to cover these five bases:
Your memo won't accomplish very much if your recipient can't read it or doesn't understand your words. Even though your memo is short, take a moment to make sure that your audience will be able to interpret what you're trying to say.
Again, if it's too long or too complicated to be covered in a memo, write a longer message or speak to them in person. For best results, reserve memo writing for when it can effectively communicate your short (but important) messages.