Writing effective memos
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Writing effective memos

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Get noticed at work with effective memos.

Get noticed at work with effective memos.

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Writing effective memos Writing effective memos Document Transcript

  • ==== ====Writing Memos Matters! Check outsome serious business savvy on paper!www.westcliffaccelerate.com==== ====Effective business writing can be cost effective, enhance communication and advanceprofessional development, but many individuals dislike writing, some even fear it. The sight of ablank page or a blank computer screen can also be stressful. In childhood, writing was a funprocess, but it all changed once we became adults. Writing is no longer fun; as adults, our writingis consistently graded and critiqued. Most of the critiquing and grading came from our teachers inschool. It is necessary to mention that these teachers were well intentioned. Whether we liked it ornot, teachers taught us how to write. Writing for a satisfactory grade intended using big words andfilling a certain amount pages, all in an effort to impress the teacher. When we finish school, andwe take on roles in business organizations we realize that businesses require a different set ofwriting skills. Some of the skills necessary are not taught in school unless you take businesswriting courses. Our audience was our teacher, but in business writing, there is a broaderaudience. In business "time is money", the audience does not have time to sift through our reportsfor the main point.Too many business writers have the notion that big words are signs of literacy and superiorintelligence. Communicating in an unknown tongue can be pretentious. A rich vocabulary isimportant. There are many useful big words for which there is no satisfactory substitute, as long asbig words are used correctly and the readers or listeners are not baffled. Big words can add spiceto a piece of writing. However, in letters that are written to colleagues, customers, and the generalpublic, it is better to put away the dictionary. Instead, the writer should choose words that are mostfamiliar to people. Even when the writer knows the person he or she is writing to is highly literate, itis still a good idea to choose simple words over the showy words. Not because the reader will notunderstand the writer but because conversational writing is livelier and more interesting.In addition, many employees write letters, memos and emails that are a good deal longer thanthey need to be. According to Parish (2010) "E-mails have basically replaced memos and letters,but they are getting longer and longer" (Para. 11). The writer who takes 100 words to say whatmight have been said just as well in 40 is a nuisance, a time waster. A two-page letter is fine,sometimes the writer may want to include words that are not necessary but that do add warmthand friendliness. Nevertheless, wasted words are those that clutter the message without addinganything to it, but actually detract from the message. Writing effective can save money withouttarnishing the organizations image.A lot of argument can be made over the high cost of business writing. When you think about suchelements as stationery and postage, the writers time, the secretarys time, and overheadexpenses, the cost of a single business letter can be high. Each time, a new expense reportcomes out conscious executives are usually on a mad scramble to trim expenses. On average, aletter might cost up to $15 dollars. Frankly business writing costs are much too high in manycompanies. Much of the expense is a result of the writers time. Business professionals may spend
  • an hour or more starring at a blank screen because they do not know what to write.However, lets be rational. The money spent to write a letter with all overhead costs incurred canbe minor when compared to the money lost by writing a bad letter or no letter at all. A short,quickly tossed off message to a highly valued customer may delight the cost conscious manager,but it could result in a reduction or a total loss of that customers business. Therefore, it could bean expensive or inexpensive piece of business writing. Letters, memos and emails in businessorganizations are not merely mediums of communication. They are effective substitutes for face toface visits, making and keeping friends, attracting and holding customers, and building a positiveimage of yourself and your organization.Even a small improvement in business writing skills might also improve career prospects.However, individuals need first to admit that they have a problem with business writing. Writing isnot a gift; it is a skill that is learned the same way as any other activity, by trial and error over along period of time. There is a specific type of content for specific business writing, for example,the elements that must go into a thank you letter are not the same for a letter of resignation.Individuals will become a skilled writer only writing and writing some more. Further, writing is not alinear process. It is messy and frequently, time consuming. When the individual confronts thatblank piece of paper, or, more likely these days a blank computer screen, they will often find thattheir mind is just as blank. It can be frustrating when their boss wants that report on his or her deskby the end of the day.If individuals have ever taken courses in business writing, chances are they learned that a goodletter is brief, courteous, clear and tactful. Further, they probably learned that every letter, memo,and email they write is sales structured. Business professionals are always selling something suchas, products, services, company image, yourself, or simply an idea. These students were alsocautioned to handle responses to all communications promptly. It is hard to argue with these rulesbecause most of them make good sense for "most" letters. It easy to make a list of rules forwriting, and most business professionals can do it. Organizations also publish manuals which areessentially rulebooks or manuals for business writing.Unfortunately, the rules do not always work. The reason is that they are typically established to fitideal conditions, and, unfortunately, communication situations are not always ideal. For example, ifan employee is answering a question from a potential customer who is genuinely interested in thecompanys products, employees can grab the list of rules and start writing to the customer. Thisletter is friendly, personal and sales structured. However, what if you are a credit manager and youhave to write a fourth letter to a dealer who appears to have no intentions of paying an accountthat is months past due. In this situation business, employees can not be friendly, personal andsales structured. Employees can not use a rulebook in this situation. All the good, friendly ruleswere used in the first few letters. Now in this situation, the employee will probably have to write anunfriendly letter yet maintain a good image of the company and themselves. Business writing willlargely depend on who the writer is, who the reader is, what the problem is and what the writerexpects to accomplish. There are many different ways of writing a good piece of business writing.Although, every piece of business writing should express yourself as you were facing the reader.Business writing is written by people to people. According to Connor (2010) "Try to imitate, onpaper, the voice with which you normally talk" (Para. 3). Even though, a company letterhead isused, and you represent that organization when you write letters, it is still you who delivers the
  • message. This means that the audience should be treated like humans. People are different, andwhen possible these differences should be taken into account. On the other hand, people are verymuch alike in certain respects. They want to be treated as though they have above averageintelligence. Further, that they are important to the company they work for.So how can individuals improve their career prospects by improving their business writing skills?First individuals can start by improving their resumes. In job searching, it is vital to have a goodresume. Resumes are a critical tool in evaluating potential candidates qualifications. Employerslook for key phrases, words, and they review accomplishments. Further, employers are critical inassessing the quality of the written document. Therefore, resumes must be perfect in visualpresentation and the quality of the written word. Although, somewhat formal in setup, mainly forquick reading and reference purposes, the resume is essentially a sales instrument. It is used toemphasize in it those events and accomplishments that make us look good to prospectiveemployers. Resumes are not razzle- dazzle documents neither are they merely a condensedbiographical sketch of ones life and work. As with any business writing, there is no magic formulathe writer can use to produce an effective letter for every occasion. Most of business writing mustbe tailored to fit the particular situation one is faced with. The same is true of a resume.However, every good resume contains some essential parts. A good resume must contain anobjective, a heading, a description of the jobs held, degrees, major courses taken and a list ofpeople whom an employer can contact for information about the applicant. Form and design isimportant in a resume because it is the first contact with prospective employers, so it must be keptsimple and clean. Objectives must be specific, and tailored to each employer targeted to every jobone seeks. People may find this time consuming but worth the effort. In the work experiencesection, you give an overview of the credentials and skills. It is a good idea to use action wordssuch as achieved, acquired, supervised, etc. According to Pace (2006) "Your credentials includeeducation and professional knowledge, degrees and certificates" (p.84).If one is a recent graduatewithout much work experience, then education should be listed first.Reviewing the work is the last step in the resume writing process. It is important to check it forspelling and grammatical errors. Before anyone looks at the resume, it should be run through spellcheck on a computer. Also, it is wise to ask someone to read it over and comment on it. The morepeople who read the resume, the more likely it is that misspelled words and awkward phrases willbe noticed and corrected.An effective resume may lead to employment. Once individuals start working within organizations,they will encounter varies writing responsibilities. Nearly everyone with writing responsibilitiesoccasionally faces problem composing "just the right" memo or email in situations they have notmet up with before. This statement can be verified by supervisors, managers, business owners,etc.Although there is no magic formula, every good piece of business writing identifies its purpose,indentifies its audience and contains a good formulated thesis. Most people rarely write without apurpose in mind, and business writing, in particular, always has a goal, something to beaccomplished. Clarifying the reasons for writing will immediately put individuals on the right track.Further, much of the time, when business professionals write, they know exactly who the audienceis. It could be a customer requesting information about a product or informing colleagues about ameeting. In other situations, however, business professionals need to think more thoroughly about
  • their audience. What kind of people might comprise their audience and what their needs andexpectations are? Identifying the audience early in the writing process will help determine whatkind of information they need and how much they need to tell them. An important aspect of writingis deciding what information to provide and what information can be safely omitted. The writermust assume that the audience has limited time to read business documents (Handouts andLinks, n.d., Para. 3).So to be a good business writer, business professionals have to know as much as possible aboutthe person or persons who will read the correspondence. For some individuals, this is fairly easy.A lot of writers know their readers simply because they deal with them often. Others have todepend mainly on their imagination, since most of the individuals they write to are strangers.However, even here there are often clues, such as, the company they work for, their importanceas revealed by their job title, something about their personality as indicated about what they do.Even the person who writes promotions to persuade people to buy or subscribe to something willusually have some information about the target. For example, educational level, approximateincome, family size and so on.Further, writing for a general audience is quite different from writing for a group of specialists.General readers might know a few terms in a specific field. The writer will obviously need toprovide them with more detail and explanation than one would a group of colleagues who shareyour training and expertise. The writer does not want to lose general readers interest by assumingthey know as much as you do about the topic or overwhelming them with technical jargon.According to Pace, (2006) "Jargon consists of words that are used in specific fields and trades" (p.82). A bit of humor might lighten the reading for a general audience, but it would be out of place ina formal report to the board of directors.Once the purpose and the audience are identified, the next step is organizing the ideas. Twomethods that can be used are brainstorming and mapping. In brain storming, the writer creates alist of ideas, whether or not they seem irrelevant or off the wall and without worrying about howyou might organize them or connect them. The purpose is to generate ideas at this stage. Themore ideas the writer has the more likely the writer is to end up with some that will be useful whenbeginning to write. Mapping is a way of using words to construct a conceptual map around thetopic. It can be done by writing the subject topic in the middle of the page, and then thinking ofconcepts related to the topic writing them down around the topic.The writing process continues with the next step, which is to formulate the thesis. The thesis is themain idea one will be writing about, the central point the topic that one wants the audience toremember. Generally, a thesis is formulated after one has chosen a topic, developed a question oropinion to answer or elaborate on generated ideas from experience or research. The thesis iswhat all the preparation leads up to, and a good thesis accomplishes important writing objectives.The thesis narrows the topic to one central idea that one will write about. Further, it makes ageneralization that one will support with details, facts and examples.One of the rewarding outcomes of the writing process is a polished piece of writing of which onecan be proud. Good, effective business writing will make a favorable impression on your managersand colleagues. Unlike speaking, writing gives us the opportunity to refine the way we express ourideas and revise until we are satisfied with whatever time limit the writer face. When the first draftis complete, one can begin the long process of polishing, rewriting, and rethinking. It is important
  • in business writing to reread the first draft several times, preferably several hours to a day afterwriting it, if it is possible. A badly written piece of business writing can be costly for yourorganization. It is wise to ask a friend or colleague to read the work and give feedback, not onlyabout grammar and spelling, but also about the word choice and the expression of the thesis andevidence.These basic principals can provide business professionals with a solid foundation forcommunicating effectively. Almost every career requires excellent writing skills. The way businessprofessionals acquire these skills is, to a great extent, up to them. Without the skills, no matterhow bright and knowledgeable the individual may be, successfully performing on the job will beextremely difficult if not impossible. The most likely way to obtain business writing skills is throughcourses, reading, on the job training, extracurricular activities, and participating in writingworkshops. Acquiring the skill requires training and practice. Fortunately daily reading of wellwritten material has the added benefit of providing a model for writing good, clear English. Allcourses taken in college such as, finance, advertising, marketing, etc will not advance a career,unless individuals learn to write clear, simple English. Acquiring the skill will enable individuals toreap benefits in career development and promote positive interpersonal relationships withcolleagues of diverse cultural backgrounds.About this Authorhttp://www.wnybusinessview.comArticle Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Edward_Sullenberg==== ====Writing Memos Matters! Check outsome serious business savvy on paper!www.westcliffaccelerate.com==== ====