Every office place memo has a distinct purpose. To get that point across efficiently and clearly, managers should mind what and how they compose these messages. Find out the best practices for effective memo writing here.
Here's what you need to know about :
- A good memo should have a clear purpose and provide a summary of the issue at hand.
- Integrated technological systems can check for spelling and grammar mistakes as you write the memo.
- Use simple language that is easy to understand rather than technical jargon or complex wording.
Writing memos to employees is an integral part of communication within any organization. Communication in all forms in the workplace needs to be easily understood and shared freely. Memorandums are efficient ways to get points across to staff members.
For some in management, writing an effective memo may not be as easy as it seems. Memos may contain critical information that requires confidence and certainty. Therefore, it’s essential that these memos are clear, concise, and get the point across effectively.
What is a memo, and when should management write one?
A memorandum (memo) is simply a written document that helps businesses communicate with each other. These used to look like bulletins, flyers, or some other written documentation. These days, memos are more commonly sent by email.
Memos should be printable, savable, and sharable to reach everyone with a requirement to know.
Memos are short notices created for employees. They may contain:
- New policies
- Different procedures
- Progress reports
- Business updates
- Task reminders
- Meeting schedules
- Personal announcements (new hire, new baby, retirement, etc.)
- Other important information
The memo is brief and provides broad announcements that every employee can benefit from being aware of. Usually, the context of the message is for a group of people or an entire department. These communiques should be printable, savable, and sharable to reach everyone with a requirement to know.
How to structure a memo
A good memo should have a clear purpose and provide a summary of the issue at hand. These messages should be dense and easy enough for anyone to read and understand. It helps for memos to be appropriately formatted to make it easier for the average reader to process.
Scanning text is a common way people read information. This method of reading is essentially looking across paragraphs and picking out keywords to summarize a text. For employees in particular, this may be how they read a memo. They have essential tasks to handle. Taking the time to thoroughly read clunky documents may not suit everyone.
How to make your memo scannable
To make each memo sweet and scannable, it should contain the following:
- A header: this will distinctly declare who the message is for. This part might look like “ATTN: Marketing Team” or “To: Management.”
- An introduction: this part officially announces the purpose of the memo. It lets the reader know whether the message is important enough for them to pay attention to.
- The body: here, you should elaborate on the main reason for the memo. It should provide facts, relevant statistics, and any necessary explanations. Use short paragraphs with digestible information while giving relevant details. This helps ensure employees fully understand the purpose of the memo.
- A conclusion: this should be no more than a couple of summarizing sentences. It could include a call to action for memos that contain deadlines or due dates. Effective memos should always include a conclusion to encapsulate the key points and suggest any next steps.
- The closing: this part needs to provide the contact information for additional questions. This could be HR, management, or subject matter experts.
- Attachments: when necessary, memos include additional details provided via attachments. This information can consist of relevant facts and references that back up any claims made in the primary document.
Adding this structure to memos can help employees understand what is being asked of them or what you’re telling them. Expecting a template like this each time they come across a memo lets them know where to look for the most critical part of the message. This saves time and keeps them from getting bogged down with too much information.
Crafting a clear message
Writing an effective notice can be a challenge. However, a well-written memo can convey the necessary information with the right structure and content. Memorandum writers should pay attention to the language used in a message intended for groups of employees.
Take time to reflect on your message’s goal before you have your memo entirely written. The message writer should communicate in a way that directly talks about the purpose and the details surrounding it.
Consider the audience
First, memos should keep their audience in mind. Businesses can have a language and acronyms that people outside their networks won’t understand. Use simple language that is easy to understand rather than technical jargon or complex wording.
A well-written memo can convey the necessary information with the right structure and content.
Between the endless acronyms and business aspects, memos need to sound a certain way that all people can comprehend. For example, B2B may be interpreted as “back-to-back” instead of “business-to-business.”
This is also where the tone of the message matters. Sending a message that the company just landed a huge account deserves a specific tone to convey excitement. That said, using the same tone might not sound appropriate for a retirement announcement.
If the memo writer comes across as angry, employees may relate those negative feelings toward the memo’s content. Management should take care of these syntactical issues before sending them out to masses of people.
In the spirit of being as short and sweet as possible, it helps to be precise and concise. Since readers typically only take a brief glimpse of the notice, the message should avoid vague wording. Instead of telling the audience there’s an emergency meeting soon, it should provide exact information regarding the meeting:
- Time and expected duration
To be as straightforward as possible, it helps to look at the formatting a little closer. Bullets and numbered lists make it easy for readers to scan key points. Important information can have highlights, different-sized fonts, or bolder fonts to ensure its visibility.
Proofread and edit
The best way to convey your message is to be verbally and grammatically correct. Misspelled words or non-functional sentences can cause confusion and rejection. Moreover, grammar mistakes can make an entire business look incompetent and damage its reputation.
Management should read memos a few times before sending them to avoid mistakes. It may help to have a second pair of eyes provide an opinion about certain tone adjustments or spelling mistakes.
Some technology can help proofread messages. Integrated systems can check for spelling and grammar mistakes as you write the memo. Some can even check for clarity mistakes to make the directive as clear and to the point as possible.
Without proper proofreading, management can seem unprofessional and uncaring of the memo’s objectives. If employees feel their bosses don’t care, they won’t care either.
Memos have always been a valuable way to quickly deliver messages to employees. Readers need to comprehend what a memo is telling them and be able to carry out its instruction. If you plan to hold employees accountable for the contents, your memos should contain explicit information they can’t miss.
Knowing the purpose of the note and the target audience is essential for communicating your desired message. It’s important to keep the length of the memo short and focus only on the most relevant information. Taking the time to perfect all the details and ensure the message’s understandability can guarantee every memo is urgently heeded.