ADM 612 – Leadership Lecture 22 – Memo Writing
Introduction • A memo is a relatively short, written document. • Memos address specific people or groups for the purpose of recording an agreement, transmitting information, making a case, or enabling action.
Introduction • Brevity is essential. • Memos are precision tools. • Four topics. • Know your audience or principal. • Getting engaged in writing. • Using language. • Organizing the final product.
Know Your Principal or Audience • Who is the audience for your memo? • What do they need to know? • Know the position of your readers and their responsibilities, constraints, and pressures. • How much and what type of information. • Accurate and relevant information. • Bad news as well as the good. • Honest and realistic alternatives. • Lay out reasons for recommending a course of action.
Know Your Principal or Audience • How should you present the information to them? • All information with economy and clarity. • Judicious use of headings and bullets.
How to Get Engaged in Serious Writing • Writing is difficult, frustrating work. • Writing requires practice. • You need an explicit system for getting started and finished. The system is not important as the fact you have one. • If you have difficulty, get help.
Using the Language • Simplicity. • Straightforward sentence structure. • Subject, verb, object. • Who is the actor? What action is the actor performing? On what or whom is the actor acting?
Using the Language • Clarity. • Choosing the right word. • Avoid complex phrases. • Avoid technical jargon.
Using the Language • Clearly assign action and responsibility. • Avoid passive sentences. • Correctness in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. • Do not rely on spell check or tgrammar checker exclusively.
Organization and Argument • Tell them what you are going to tell them (introduction), tell them what you told them (body), and tell them what you told them (conclusion).
Organization and Argument • Putting the important things up front (journalism). • Make the transition from one step of the argument to the next clearly. • Use a clear format. • Definition. If necessary, say “x means y.” • Ordering. Logical relationship among topics with a clear set of headings. • Connecting and concluding. Give clear messages about what you have said.
Conclusion • Remember your obligation to yourself, your principal, and the information you are presenting. • A memo communicates.
Conclusion • The quality of your presentation reflects the quality of your own mind and preparation. • Poor writing and presentation destroys your credibility as an advisor.