Jill’s boss asked her to write a memo on a school to work program. The company where Jill worked was a leader in the computer software field. A school-to work program would give young people in school a chance to be employed part time and to learn the software business. If their work was good, the company might hire them for full-time jobs after they graduated. This article will help you to understand how to write properly and effectively.
“Keep the memo short,” Jill’s boss told her. “And stick to the point.” Jill was supposed to explain the type of program her company should start. She sat down at her computer and began to write. On the first page, she talked about her own experience in a school-to-work program. Then she described what two of her friends had done in their programs. They had worked part time in other companies. Next she wrote about several school to work programs described in magazines.
Five pages later, she finally signed her name. “Well, I think the information my boss wants is in here somewhere,” she said to herself. Then she submitted the memo. Jill’s boss was a busy person. He received more than 50 memos each day, and he didn’t have time to read every memo completely. A memo writer had to get to the point quickly. Otherwise, Jill’s boss would read no further. He read the first paragraph of Jill’s memo. Then he scanned the second paragraph. “What’s the point of this memo?” he asked himself. He threw up his hands in frustration and threw the memo away.
In the workplace, information seems to come from all directions. Each day, managers are expected to read memos, letters, and reports. Correspondence arrives through email, fax machines, and overnight delivery. With so much information coming in, managers don’t have time to read all of it. Often they will stop reading a memo if it doesn’t capture their interest quickly. How can you make sure that people will read your memo? How can you be certain that your boss will remember what you have written? You must have a clear purpose and state that purpose as quickly as possible.
This was something that Jill neglected to do in her memo. It’s also essential that you know your readers and give them the information they want. Jill’s boss wanted a concise memo that explained the type of school-to-work program the company should adopt. Instead, Jill gave him a rambling five-page report that didn’t tell him what he wanted to know. As a result, it ended up in the wastebasket. This article will help you to understand how to write properly and effectively.
Define Your Purpose
Many people just sit down, begin writing, and hope for the best. Sometimes they are lucky. However, most of the time they produce poorly written and confusing material. Before you begin writing, state your purpose and how you propose to carry it out. This information can be stated briefly in one or two summary sentences. These sentences sum up the purpose of your writing.
Suppose you want your school to sponsor a class trip. You decide to write a letter to the principal about it. Here are your summary sentences:
My letter is designed to persuade the principal to sponsor the trip. The letter will present three reasons why the trip would be valuable for students.
The purpose of some writing is to persuade. We use this type of writing both at school and on the job. Jan believed that her office needed more computers. Without them, she and her coworkers simply couldn’t keep up with the volume of their work. Jan wrote a memo to her boss to persuade him to purchase additional computers. She pointed out that everyone would get more work done if there were more computers to use. She also found a company that sold computers at a low price. Jan’s arguments and initial research convinced her boss to buy the computers. This article will help you to understand how to write properly and effectively.
Some writing is primarily designed to describe. Robert’s supervisor sent him to a conference and wanted him to write a memo describing what happened there. Robert knew his supervisor didn’t want to know everything that occurred but only the most important things. Here is Robert’s summary sentence:
I will describe the three significant things I learned at the conference that might help our department.
Writing for Your Reader
Some people keep diaries or journals. This type of writing is meant only for themselves. However, most writing is meant for others to read. Thus, it’s important for you, as the writer, to know as much as possible about your readers. Knowing your readers will help you decide what to say and how to say it.
Questions to Ask about Your Readers
- Who are they?
- What do they need to know about the topic?
- What is their attitude toward the topic?
- Why should they care about the topic?
A human resources manager at a manufacturing company explains that some new employees often don’t understand the “politics” of the organization. Suppose they think a supervisor is treating them unfairly. They’re apt to fire off a memo telling him about it. Unfortunately, these employees don’t last very long in the organization. You may be able to complain to your coworkers about unfair treatment, but new employees are not expected to criticize their boss.
Before you send off a memo or a letter, it is very important to understand your readers. Ask yourself what you can say, what you can’t say, and what your reader expects of you.
Some supervisors are interested in facts and figures only. Suppose you are proposing a new project. Your supervisor may only want to know how it will benefit the organization, how much it will cost, and how you will carry it out. If this is what your supervisor expects, this is what you should give him. This article will help you to understand how to write properly and effectively.
Other supervisors show interest in learning about the steps you followed in conceptualizing the project. They want to know where you gathered your information and what other companies have undertaken similar projects. They may also be interested in finding out about alternative approaches to executing the project that you considered but later rejected. These supervisors are more process oriented and detail oriented. If this is the type of supervisor you