A business memo (or memorandum) is an indispensable mean of internal business communication. Although its function is often delegated to emails, text messages, and chats, memos are still being used in many companies, big and small.
How to Write an Effective Business Memo
An effective business memo must have a clear purpose, easy to read, and delivers the message as quickly as possible. To achieve those purposes, the memo must be structured well. In general, a well-formatted memo consists of a title, header, and content.
The title of the memo is just the word “Memo”. Yes, that’s it. Put this identifying word on top of the paper so people know what it is just by a glance.
The header includes the identifying information such as the date, name and title of the recipient(s), who the memo is from, and the subject.
DATE: Always include the date to ensure the recipients take care of the issue in a timely manner. The date is also important for archiving purposes.
TO: State the audience of the memo. It can be a specific individual, a department, or everyone. If the memo is directed to a specific individual, be courteous and include the full name plus the job title of the recipient.
FROM: It’s not rare to have people with similar names in an office. Therefore, just like the TO line, you need to be specific. Write your full name and your job title to avoid confusion.
SUBJECT: A concise and specific subject line is a must. You’re not the only one sending memos out and the receiver may get more than one memo in a day. The subject of an effective business memo must give the receiver a good idea of what the memo is about.
Here’s an example:
DATE: October 29, 2018
TO: Joe Star, Project Manager, IT Department
FROM: Kevin Ham, CIO
SUBJECT: Thursday Meeting Cancelled
For the memo content, skip any greetings and introductions. Get right to the point like this:
Meeting scheduled for Thursday, November 1, 2018, to discuss project BKA48 is canceled. All further communication about the project will be done by email and Skype chat.
Please ask your supervisor, Jack Hughman, for the client’s contact details.
The content for our example above only has two short paragraphs. However, a memo can have up to four paragraphs. That said, always make sure to skip the chit-chat and write only the important bits. Make it easy for people to scan the content and find what’s important.
Also take note that all memo content should explicitly state what the desired action is. The example above clearly shows that Joe should ask his supervisor, Jack, about the client’s contact details.
OK, that’s all for our short guide on how to write an effective business memo. Now, before you send your memo away, always proofread your memo and make sure it’s free from spelling and grammar errors. Double-check the dates, names, places, and what the content is to avoid miscommunication. In business, miscommunication can translate to higher stress levels, delayed project completion, or lost sales. It’s better to avoid them, don’t you think?