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What is a memo? Components of Memos | Tips to write memos with examples

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Memorandum ( Memo)

Memo is a piece of writing ( message) generally written by the officers of an organization for sharing information among them. Memos are often only a few short paragraphs, but they can be much longer depending on their purpose. Here are some typical uses of memos:

  • To inform others about new or changed policy, procedures, organizational details
  • To announce meetings, events, changes
  • To present decisions, directives, proposals, briefings
  • To transmit documents ( internal)

Memo Style

   Concise: Make your sentences, paragraph, and overall memo as brief and as focused as possible.

   Clear: Get your purpose straight before you start, then plan what you want to say and in what order. Use your memo layout to help your reader ( headings, bulleted lists , white space, as appropriate).

   Direct: Speak directly to your reader, as you would in person or on the phone. Do not pad your ideas with unnecessary details. Think of what questions your reader wants answered, and then answer them.

   Clean: Reread, revise, copyedit, and proofread.

  Memo Structure / Components / Criteria 

  •   Subject Line: Summarizes the main idea. The subject line, typed in all caps, is where you begin talking to your readers. One-word subject line does not communicate effectively.

   DATE:

   TO:

   FROM:

   SUBJECT: ( Focus + Topic ) 

  • SUBJECT: Focus plus Topic 
  • SUBJECT: SALARY INCREASES FOR COMPTROLLERS
  • One-word subject lines don’t communicate effectively.
  • Introduction:
  • Once you have communicated your intent in the subject line, you want to get to the point in the introductory sentences.
  • A goal is to write one or two clear introductory sentences which tell your readers what you want and why you’re writing.
  • Discussion:
    • The discussion section allows you to develop your content specifically. You want to respond to the questions like who, what, when, why, where, how; but you also want to make your information accessible.
  • Conclusion:
  • Conclude your memo with a complimentary close and/or a directive close. Complimentary close motivates your readers and leaves them happy, as in the following example.
  • If our quarterly sales continue to improve at this rate, we will double our sales expectations by 2022. Congratulations!
  • Audience:  Recognize the audience.
  •   You might be writing simultaneously to your immediate supervisor ( high tech), to his or her boss (low tech), to your colleagues ( high tech) , and even to a CEO ( low tech).
  • You can use parenthetical definitions.
  • Style:
  • Use simple words
  • Readable sentences
  • Specific detail
  • Highlighting techniques
  • Clarity
  • Grammar:
  • Abide by all grammatical conventions, when writing memos.

Process of Writing Memos

  • Prewriting:

  Main topic —- Subtopic

  • Writing:
    • Review your prewriting.
    • Determine your focus
    • Clarify your audience ( who to)
    • Review your memo criteria
    • Organize your ideas
    • Write the draft 
  • Rewriting:
    • add new detail for clarity.
    • Delete dead words.
    • Simply words and Phrases.
    • Move information if need be.
    • Reformat for access
    • Enhance the tone and style of your memo
    • Correct for accuracy
    • Avoid sexist language

Memorandum

DATE: May 1, 2020

TO: Planning Committee 

FROM: Steve Janasz 

SUBJECT: PLANNING AGENDA FOR JULY $ COMPANY PICNIC

Congratulations! We had a series of outstanding meetings with excellent input from all team members. I appreciate your involvement.

To confirm our decisions reached yesterday at the final planning committee meeting, here’s the agenda for everyone’s July 4 Company Picnic responsibilities:

  • Entertainment:

   Mary, you will need to focus on two topics: music and games. By May 10, select and book a country-western band. The team members’ first choice is the band Rattlesnake, but but they also would be happy with Texas River. By May 15, make arrangements with the local community college to lead us softball equipment ( balls, bats and gloves).

  • Food

Tasha, you’re in charge of food. We’ve already chosen the menu ( Potato salad, baked beans, chocolate cake and ice cream). By May 20, select a caterer. Remember, budget is important!

  • Location

Galen, since the committee members voted on softball for our company entertainment, you will need to reserve a ball field. By May 25, contact the city Parks and Recreation Department and reserve the field. 

  • Invitations

Jordan, you will need to write and mail invitations by June 10. Use our desktop publishing software to produce the mailers. Be sure to include where we’ll hold the picnic, when to arrive, when the festivities plan to end, costs per family, and the agenda for events.

Thank you for your all support on this project. Together we will make this team effort a success. July 4 will be a company festival guaranteed to raise corporate morale.

Case

A historian has said this about Gen. George A Custer: “Generals who led men were rare; generals who won battles were rarer. It is no wonder that he was idolized from President Lincoln down. All the world loves a winner.” On June 26, 1826, Custer’s 261 soldiers were killed at the Battle of the little Bighorn. Another historian asks, ‘Was Custer a hero or a fool?”

On February 27, 1997, the allied coalition forces of Operation Desert Storm led by Gen.H. Norman Schwarzkopf overcome the armies of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in a victory that quickly became known to the as “The 100-hour War.” Shortly before the war, Schwarzkopf is quoted as saying, “I told my family that during the first month of any military campaign, the guy in charge is a hero, and it’s downhill after that.”

  • Questions:
    • Compare the management communications system of these two mangers. How are the basics similar? What was the role of technology?
    • How would you compare these two generals to business managers during the same era? Which of the two managers required more advanced training in management communication? Why?
  • ( Megharaj Adhikari’s Managerial Communication)
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