All businesses, regardless of size or industry, benefit from clear and concise communication within the workplace. Clear written communication is essential to employee productivity and client satisfaction. Moreover, it mitigates conflict and ensures a sense of understanding and belonging among individuals, which will boost engagement and teamwork across the company. Learning how to write a strong business memo is essential to strong communication.
Business memos are an excellent tool for streamlining communication in the workplace. Because they’re simple and direct, they’re easy to optimize for different audiences and integrate into your workflow.
What Is a Business Memo?
A business memo is a brief document that communicates information within a business. These memos are formal yet simple, making them an optimal solution for team members to work from in a timely manner.
Business memos are different from business plans or proposals, which are used to develop company strategies and predict outcomes. Unlike other business documents, memos are meant to provide cohesive, cross-team communication about existing operations.
To write an effective business memo, it’s important to know its purpose. This can include but is not limited to:
- Identifying a problem and outlining a solution.
- Communicating internal changes, such as schedules and deadlines or team personnel.
- Providing progress updates.
- Giving or gathering feedback.
Once you understand the unique purpose of your memo, you must know how to clearly communicate it with your team. Read on for tips on how to effectively format and write a business memo.
Formatting a Business Memo
As previously mentioned, the keys to effective memos are clarity and concision. Therefore, your memo’s formatting should be aimed at ensuring the information is as easy to digest as possible while still being thorough. The standard formatting for a business memo includes the following:
- Date: The date you intend to send the memo.
- To: The names and/or job titles of individuals or teams to whom the memo is primarily addressed.
- Cc (if applicable): The names and/or job titles of those who will receive copies.
- From: The writer’s name followed by their job title and/or initials.
- Subject: A phrase or statement summarizing the memo’s main topic.
As you draft the body of your memo, use clearly defined headers, topic sentences, and bullet points to organize the content. This will allow team members to easily skim read and make note of the main details. For easy navigation, separate blocks of text using indents and white space. You can also use bolding or underlines to signal key points.
Additional formatting details, such as font style, size, or color, will depend on your company’s guidelines. The general rule is to keep things simple and avoid detracting from what’s being communicated.
7 Steps to Writing a Business Memo
Once you’ve formatted your memo, your next step is to write the body of content. The key is to write in a manner that’s concise, thorough, and easily understood by your audience. Below are the crucial components of writing a business memo:
1. Specify your subject line
As the shortest part of your memo, your subject line should be snappy yet specific. Avoid generic phrases, such as “Schedule Changes,” and opt for something more detailed, such as “Schedule Changes for Latest Content Project.” This will capture your readers’ attention, and they’ll be less likely to skip over important information.
2. Clarify the main topic
The memo’s purpose should be apparent from the beginning. Always lead your body with a topic sentence that clarifies what the memo is about. Your topic sentence should provide a brief summary of the content that will follow and what the reader should expect to know. Depending on the length of your memo, your topic may encompass a few sentences to a brief paragraph. Regardless of how long this section is, it should be concise.
3. Know your audience
Your writing should read clearly to your intended audience. Always keep your recipients in mind and tailor your language for them. Consider the key points that your audience is looking for and use them as a guide for drafting and organizing the text. When writing for a wider audience, use vocabulary that’s easy to digest and avoid department-specific jargon.
The best way to know if your body text will read clearly is to think about the role of your main recipient(s) (e.g., a memo for your boss will read differently than a memo for your colleagues).
4. Consider the tone
While your text should not be overly formal, it should be concise and direct. When considering the tone you use, think about the situation. For instance, if you are working to solve an operations issue, aim for sensitivity in your writing. In any case, use a professional tone that’s both confident and sincere.
Additionally, ensure clarity and concision in your writing by:
5. Only include relevant information
Irrelevant details diminish the main topic and distract the reader, ultimately slowing down communication between team members. Thus, you should only include information that directly pertains to the topic at hand.
To determine whether a piece of information is relevant in a memo, ask yourself:
- Does it support the purpose?
- Is it crucial to understanding the topic of the memo?
- Does it provide the reader with clear instructions?
- Does it contain supplemental or optional information that the readers should keep in mind?
6. Choose your method of communication
Now that you’ve drafted and polished your memo, the final and most important step is to send it! Fortunately, most business memos are digital and can be delivered en masse. Some businesses opt for email, but many turn to software programs like Slack or Asana for their functionality and ability to synchronize content.
Whichever method you choose, ensure that you optimize the formatting (e.g., spacing, links, or tags) for the respective software.
7. Proofread your work
Quality writing is of utmost importance when communicating professionally. As you review your memo, look out for errors in grammar, punctuation, and structure that could hinder the reader’s understanding. Having another set of eyes review your work will help you spot mistakes that you might have otherwise missed.
Implementing business memos into your communications is a simple process that will impact your workplace’s productively for the better. A well-written memo can be the difference between a successful outcome and a major misunderstanding. By keeping these tips in mind, you and your team will be well on your way to achieving a worthwhile system of written communication.
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