Module 11: Composing Informative and Positive Messages
February 18 2012
How Should I organize Informative and Positive Messages?
- Consider your audience’s needs: put the good news and a summary of the information first.
- Present informative and positive messages in the following order:
Give any good news and summarize the main points:
Share good news immediately, include details such as the date that policies begin and
the percent of a discount.
Give details, clarification, and background.
Don’t repeat information from the first paragraph.
Answer all the questions your reader is likely to have.
Provide all information necessary.
Present any negative elements as positively as possible.
A policy might have limits; information might be incomplete, etc.
Make the negatives clear but present them as positively as possible.
Explain any reader benefits
Most informative memos need reader benefits.
Show that the policy/procedure helps readers, not just the company.
Give enough detail to make the benefits clear and convincing.
Use a goodwill ending: positive, personal, and forward-looking
Shifting your emphasis away from the message to the specific reader suggests that
serving the reader is your real concern.
When should I use reader benefits in Informative and Positive Messages?
- Use reader benefits when you want readers to view your policies and your organization positively.
- You don’t need reader benefits when:
You’re presenting factual information only.
The reader’s attitude toward the information doesn’t matter.
Stressing benefits may make the reader sound selfish.
The benefits are so obvious that to restate them insults the reader’s intelligence.
- You do need reader benefits when:
You are presenting policies
You want to shape readers’ attitudes toward the information or toward your organization.
Stressing benefits presents readers’ motives positively
Some of the benefits may not be obvious to readers.
- Messages to customers or potential customers sometimes include a sales paragraph promoting products or
services you offer, in addition to the product or service that the reader has asked about.
- Sales promotion in an informative or positive message should be low-key, not ‘hard sell”. - The organization has probably decided to adopt the policy in its own interests; the people who made the
decision may not have thought about whether it would help or hurt employees.
- When you present reader benefits, be sure to present the advantages for the reader.
- Information on new procedures may generate hostility, since most of us are reluctant to change.
- When sending someone in an organization a hardcopy message, attach a memo or letter of transmittal
explaining what you’re sending.
- A transmittal can be as simple as a small yellow Post-it note with FYI written on it, or it can be a separate typed
- Organize a memo or letter of transmittal in this order:
o Tell the reader what you’re sending
o Summarize the main point(s) of the document
o Indicate any special circumstances or information that would help the reader understand the document.
o Tell the reader what will happen next.
What kinds of Informative and Positive Messages am I likely to write?
- You will likely write instructions, transmittals, confirmations, summaries, adjustments and thank-you notes.
- Readers may feel neutral about assembly, safety, and fire drill instructions.
- A transmittal can be positive when you’re sending glowing sales figures, or