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Module 3: Memorandums, E-mail, and Toutine Messages

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Judah Oudshoorn

Module 3: Memorandums, E-mail, and Routine Messages (May 17, 2012) Memorandums: An Introduction  Business context o Historically the genre of choice for internal communications o Gradually being replaced by email o Format still survives (very basic) Header Message Memos and Emails  Memos have three key functions: o To provide a record: Email memos provide a written record that telephone conversations and meetings do not. o To reach a wider audience: Email memos reach a wider audience for the lowest cost in time and money. Emails can be carbon copied to other parties. o To communicate with sensitivity: Often a communication can be better transmitted via an email memo. More care and effort can go into an email that rejects a proposal than into a telephone conversation that rejects the same proposal. Memo Writing Principles  Conciseness and Clarity (essential to memo writing)  Keep sentences short and action oriented and write in the active voice. Use “we” when speaking for your organization and “I” when speaking for yourself.  Use the fewest words needed to make your point effectively  Use familiar words and state the action you are communicating early on in the memo.  Avoid messaging lingo (lol, etc.)  Example of unclear and rambling message: o Ex: The program you have put forward is of excellent quality and the cost structure is well throughout. For these reasons, I would like to make the recommendation that the program be initiated immediately.  An example of a clear and concise message: o Ex: I am recommending initiating your program proposal based on its excellent cost structure. Memorandums (memos)  Memos in essence serve two purposes: 1 – to create internal communications of short, focussed message and 2 – to provide a format to create informal reports for more elaborate situations.  Memos are generally internal, or sent within an organization. They are: o Fast and efficient, o Distinctive in structure (a two-part structure: header and message), o Less formal than a letter, o Usually one page in length, and o Focused on a single topic  Longer memos require additional formatting techniques, such as: o Headings, o Subheadings, o Boldfaced font, o Bulleted lists, and o Numbered lists Memo Format  Two-part structure o Heading – includes the date, who it is addressed to , who it is from, the subject, and a list of other people receiving the memo Date:  European – 23 May 2007  North American – May 23, 2007  Metric Standard – 2007/05/23 To:  Receiver’s Name  Job title (optional)  Courtesy title o Optional, except for superiors (then use Mr., Ms. etc.)  List multiple names: o Alphabetically by last name o Descending order of importance o Group name (Claims Processors, Marketing 105) From:  Sender’s name  Courtesy title (optional)  Initial the end of this line o Paper copies only Subject:  Very important  Can be called “Re”  One line long  Specific o ES: Cost Reduction Estimate  Gives action o Ex: Cost reduction Estimate for Review CC (“Carbon Copy”)  List other people receiving a copy of the message o Message Memo Organization  Plan ahead: Consider the facts, issues, and reader’s needs. o Opening Consider the purpose for writing, the most important information, and the required action. o Middle Include detailed information (in a chronological order, or an order of specificity, or by order of importance). o Closing Detail the call for action, the reason for the request, and the deadline. Memo Organization for Longer Memos (like for a report)  Summary statement(s) at the beginning of the memo o Sub-headings Problem Situation Solution o Other elements: Double space between paragraphs Bold and italics Lists for Memos and E-mail  Lists need: o Lead-ins (introducing, explaining, and context for items). o Three to eight items (sub-divide if necessary). o Parallel phrasing (chose type of list: horizontal or vertical lists). o Semantic and grammatical continuity (use similar formats throughout the memo). Be careful not to overuse lists o Transitions to the sentences after the list. Sample Memo (RP – Red Point on the figure below)  Opens directly with a polite command and uses active-voice sentence (First RP)  Explains the opening request, offers details and supplies end date for action (RP2)  Explains enclosed material, cites reader benefits, and offers additional information (RP3)  Expresses appreciation for action (RP4) E-mail  Email can be both internal (within an organization) and external (outside an organization). o Follows the memo format o Is paperless, o Uses a constantly evolving style, and o Is usually one screen in length  Benefits and Limitations: o Benefits: Speed Ease of collaboration o Limitations: Public, possibility of a wider circulation than you intended. Make sure that what you put into an email can be forwarded to others. Lacks standard practices Email Guidelines:  Keep it Brief (and understandable).  Remember other options and march the situation to medium/channel. o Compose offline (attachments).  Follow organization rules for e-mail.  Don’t use a company e-mail system for personal e-mails.  Balance speed and accuracy (brief and concise but also accurate).  Avoid emoticons.  Remember that e-mail is not guaranteed to be private.  Don’t write angry.  Don’t send unnecessary messages.  Protect yourself and your company. Managing your E-mail  Schedule time for reading and writing e-mail  Complete regular inbox clean-ups  Scan the entire list of new messages in your inbox  Use filtering options and anti=spam software  Capture your e-mail in a recognizable records system Suggestions for Formatting and Writing E-mail  Type the electronic address correctly  Compose an action specific subject line  Wrap text after 70 characters  Use upper and lower case letters  Avoid SHOUTING (using all capitals)  Keep paragraphs and sentence short Your E-mail message  Use appropriate greetings (omitted in memos)  Use the title and last name format if you don’t know the receiver (Mr Lopez, Ms Lopez, Professor Smith)  Get to the point immediately (in the first or second sentence)  Use lists but don’t overload them  Sign off with complimentary closing, such as “Thanks,”
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