A business memo is a document that contains summarized information about a business. It is used to pass information within an organization. Memos are not as formal as business proposals because they are within the same organization, but they are expected to be concise, professional, simple, and specific. The most important characteristic of a business memo is the tone.
Memos can be about anything within an organization. It could range from raising awareness about a particular issue and providing a solution to that issue or asking for particular information. A memo may be distributed within an organization via email, notifications board, company website, bulletin, or a letter sent to all intended recipients.
Types of Memo Readers
In a work environment, it is expected that everyone is busy and no one wants to take an hour from their busy schedule to start going through a memo, which is why it is always summarized. Busy readers can scan through the executive summary and be done within a few minutes. The summary is expected to contain enough information to make readers know what is in the content. There also readers that are just interested in key points in the memo that concerns them. Then there are also readers like project managers that will canvass the memo for details and benefit from the suggested solutions.
Here, we will be talking about memo readers that focus on just the executive summary and how to create the summary so that it contains all the information they need to know without having to go through the rest of the memo. Depending on the purpose of the memo, the summary should contain recommendations about policies to facts about the basis of a particular policy decision. Some memos are just used to determine how professional and sound the judgment of the writer is.
After you have determined that your audience is people who are just going for the executive summary, the next thing to do is determine what you want your audience to do after they go through the memo and the kind of information they will be fishing for in the memo. This should determine how you structure the summary.
Drafting an Effective Business Memo Summary
For your summary to be effective, it has to serve its purpose by being simple and concise. There are a few things to do that will help you achieve this.
- What is the purpose of the memo? This is what determines what the main point in the memo will be. This point should be included in your summary. This is very important in all business memos because more often than not, it determines who will read the memo and who won’t. It helps readers understand what possible effects the memo would have on them and the part they may have to play. If it affects them in any way or they have any part to play then they will continue to read. Every other thing should be supporting the main point, not preceding it.
- How professional is it? This will determine the style you choose to go with that will match your audience. The level of professionalism used to address your colleagues won’t be the same as the one you are expected to use for your boss. Generally, your style should include sentences that are simple, brief, and straight to the point. Avoid complex or repetitive terminologies and keep your tune neutral or positive. Avoid a negative tune as much as you can.
- What are the other points the memo is trying to make? These should be included in your executive summary. Make a summary of all the main points in your memo. Do not put them in a bulleted view.
- You should also include the recommendations or arguments if the main point is an issue. If there are several points after the main point, you may want to give a recommendation about just the first few points and leave the rest in the body of the memo.
- Let the reader know how the memo is structured. This helps your audience know what to expect and choose if they want to beyond the executive summary. The summary serves as a quick review and also helps readers navigate through the memo. Memo summaries are very important.
When You Are Done
Although the summary is the first thing the reader sees, it is usually done after the whole memo is written down. Below are a few pointers that will make your memo great.
- The first thing is making a draft. Just create a draft of all you want to talk about. It doesn’t have to be orderly or professional. It’s basically just your thought on paper, or a computer screen as the case may be.
- When you are done with the draft, determine what the subject of your memo is going to be and write it down. Open your first sentence with the subject line.
- Decide who your audiences are going to be. Who is going to be reading the memo?
- Start editing your draft. Clean up your language points. Try to be as simple and straightforward as you can be and your tune should be appropriate to your audience.
- Do no use slangs in your memo and stay formal even when addressing your colleagues.
- Make sure your memo does not contain any grammatical or spelling errors.
- Your format should never be right-aligned. They can be left-aligned or justified but avoid right and center alignment.
- Make sure your memo is labelled “Memo” or “Memorandum”.
There is no need for salutations but conclusions are important. Your conclusions should not be winded and long. The conclusion is however different from the summary. There should not be more than two to five short sentences and can include a call to action.
Memos are documents that contain summarized information about a business and are used to share information within an organization. Ideally, memos are expected to be one page or no more than two at most. Memos are also expected to cover just one main point. If you have several points or issues to discuss then it is advised that you create a memo for each issue or topic. Summarizing your memo is a very important aspect of your memo writing and it is done after your memo is written.