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Tutorial: How to Write a Memo

In the age of electronic communication, why should anyone waste time learning how to construct a memo? While memos appear outdated, they are still vital to many businesses around the world. Some ideas are better delivered through a physical copy opposed to email. A memo is a hardcopy form of internal communication within an organization, and here are some tips to writing a strong memo using the ACE method.

Analyze

The first phase in writing a memo using the ACE method is to analyze the four aspects of a memo: purpose and outcome, audience, content, and medium. When analyzing the first aspect of a memo, the purpose and outcome, you essentially determine the main points you want to communicate to the recipients within your organization. Memos are most commonly utilized to inform readers about important information relevant to the organization, but memos can have other purposes. Some of the most common types of memos (and their purposes) are:

  • Request Memos (request)
  • Confirmation Memos (inform)
  • Proposal Memos (persuade)

Once you determine the purpose of the memo, the second step is to analyze the audience for the memo. Typically, the audience for each memo within an organization is similar, but this step in the analysis phase is still important. While the primary audience for your memo may only be the people in your department, the secondary audience could be the company’s CEO. Knowing your memo could reach the head of your entire organization, you will probably want to put extra care into your writing.

The third step in the analysis phase, the content, allows you to determine what information you need to include in the report and what information is unnecessary. To execute this part of the analysis correctly, you need to make sure you thoroughly analyze the purpose and outcome and the audience. Without a clearly defined purpose and outcome, you cannot possibly determine which information will help you best achieve your purpose. If you do not analyze your audience effectively, you will not know how much they already know about the topic of the memo. In this case, you welcome the possibility of either including too much or not enough information. If you include too much information, you run the risk of losing readers’ interest. If you do not include enough information, readers will most likely not even read the memo because they cannot understand it.

In the final step of the analysis phase, the medium, you determine if a memo is the best form of communication for your intended message. The main advantage of a memo is that it creates a permanent record. While emails and other electronic communications are virtually permanent, one push of a button could make an email disappear. Memos, on the other hand, provide a much safer method of documentation. The main disadvantages of a memo, though, are that they cost more money than an email and that they do not provide instant feedback. Especially when a memo is sent to an entire organization, the costs of the paper and the ink can get steep. Decide if the message is important enough to warrant the costs of sending a company-wide memo. The second disadvantage of a memo, the lack of instant feedback, discourages people from using a memo when the message requires an immediate response. If your message is time-sensitive, consider using another medium.

Compose

When taking the steps into composing a memo you will find that it is simpler than you think. At the top of the page you first want to make a header that states will receive the memo, which could be a single person or a whole company. Then the sender of the memo follows the recipient. On the third line in the header it will be the date. Then lastly the subject line that tell the recipient a general idea of what the memo is about. The parts of a memo when looking at it can break down into 3 main basic parts which are an Introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction can be a declarative brief message that tells the reader what the main topic is. The body or discussion section follows this section. This section goes into greater depth into the main topic. An example of this is that if a CEO of a company makes policy changes to dress code. The discussion section would go into elaborating on when the changes would take place, what the changes are, and why they made the changes. The last section of the memo is the conclusion. This is primarily just a summary of the main points that were in the memo.

Evaluate:
When looking at a memo overall, they have many advantages to them. One advantage is they are a physical document that is concise and easy to understand when done correctly. Having a document in a physical copy can also eliminate the conflict of who said what when discussing the topics in the memo. Another way they are good is they can be an effective way of communicating less complicated topics to a larger group of people. Some disadvantages to this method of communicating information to people are that details are often left out because they aren’t complete documents. Without all the details in a memo trying to communicate complex topics or multiple topics in them can be difficult. This also doesn’t allow very good opportunities for asking questions and giving feedback. Lastly when receiving memos a person can feel less valued as an employee because he got the information through a memo and not in person.

Conclusion:
A memo is hardcopy form of internal communication within an organization. A memo can be an alternative to email and offers many benefits to the recipient. A memo is concise, easy to read, and provides the recipient with a permanent form of documentation regarding the main details of a message. One can create a memo using a writing strategy known as the ACE method. The ACE method stands for Analyze, Compose, and Evaluate. This method is an effective way to deliver important information regarding an organization to a reader. In conclusion, memos are a great way for executives to communicate within their organization.

What do you think?

Written by Joseph Crawley

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