Writing Memos

So, as I researched event planner for my website report, I noticed a lot of people talked about writing memos at their jobs.  The event planner I interviewed for my profile said that she writes a lot of memos.  In the movie, Office Space, the boss acts “Did you get that memo?”

I was wondering if their is a certain format of memos that is considered correct.  And in what ways is a memo different from just a letter?

The Online Writing Lab, OWL , outlines a memo in a clear way.  It says memos basically “solves problems.”  They do this by informing its readers of something new- like a new policy- or persuading them to do something – attend a meeting.

The direct plan format of a memo is the most commonly used.  It starts out by stating the most important information first followed by certain details.  The general format for the heading of the memo is:

TO: (readers’ names and job titles)
FROM: (your name and job title)
DATE: (complete and current date)
SUBJECT: (what the memo is about, highlighted in some way)

4 Sections usually follow:

1.  Opening section:   First present the context and the problem.  The context is the event, circumstance, or background of the problem you are solving. Don’t waste the readers time; include only what they needs.  Next a task statement tells what is being done to solve the problem.  Finally, write a purpose statement as a reason for writing the memo and write an overview of the remaining sections of the memo.

2. Summary section: If the memo is long, you should write a summary.  It will tell briefly the conclusions you have come to and the recommendations you are making.

3.  Discussion section:  Included supporting ideas to present how you are solving the problem.  If you want people to attend a meeting, include why they would find it beneficial to go.  If you have a new dress code, write in the reasons behind the change.  In this section, begin with what is most important.

4.  Closing section: This states the action you want the readers to take and the main points from previous sections.

Other things to consider when writing the memo- found from Writing Guides’s Writing Business Memos:

-Memos can be like letters, but the main difference is you usually send memos to colleagues and coworkers who you know, so a formal saluation is not necassary.

-Before writing, outline the purpose of the memo and think of the best way to write and get the point across.

-Consider your audience.  How familiar are they with the problem you are writing about?

Directly from the website, here are specifics in formatting:

  • Memos have one-inch margins around the page and are on plain paper
  • All lines of the memo begin at the left margin
  • The text begins two spaces after the subject line
  • The body of the memo is single-spaced, with two spaces between paragraphs
  • Second-page headings are used, as in business letters
  • The second page includes who the Memo is to, the page number, and the date
  • The sender usually signs the Memo using initials, first name, or complete name

Creating a Brochure

I am very interested in all the marketing components of a business.  I have heard people say that brochures are essential to promote a company.  One website that examines how to make a good brochure is Brochure Design, saying that “brochures are powerful.”  What I remember most about brochures is when I go on vacation with my family, there are always brochures in the hotel.  After looking at exciting pictures in brochures, I pick which ones look the most exciting.  So what makes a brochure stand out in a way that is convincing and appealing?

For a brochure to represent a business, you must first consider what you want to put in the text.  Everything needs to be truthful and be able to back-up, but don’t bore customers with straight numbers.  Pick out exciting facts about your company and your product.  What makes you different?  After writing a draft for the brochure, go back and revise to make it shorter with more description.

After figuring out what you say, focus on the design next.  This is very important and should not be overlooked.  A good design is what gets a customer to even read the text.  To much white space is seen as boring, but too little can be overwhelming.  Be sure to balance text with corresponding photographs.  Remember that a brochure represents your business; it is like its identity.  Make sure the design is representative of your company.  Don’t pick fonts that are too silly if you represent more of a straight-edge business.  No brochures should be boring though, and you should mix it up with different sentence lengths and different ways to put pictures.

Finally, to make a good brochure, you need to observe good brochures.  Go around to companies and pick out brochures that stand out to you in a good way, and consider the qualities that make them stand out.  Is there something all the good brochures include?  Play around with different designs and realize that it might take a few drafts and different designs to find one that really works for your company.

For a very in-depth look at brochures, including very useful do’s and don’ts, see How to Design and Write a Basic Brochure.   The author even explains how to sell with the brochure, and not to rely on it only to make the sale.  A good brochure really just gets you in the door and thinking about the company or product.

Tips on Overcoming Presentation Jitters

 

I typically experience a lot of anxiety before giving a presentation. To help with this, I have researched some tips on professional presentation making. I actually have a presentation this Thursday, so hopefully these tips will help!

-Plan ahead as much as possible. When considering what to wear, pick something that makes you feel more confident. Always make sure it’s appropriate.

-Practice as much as you can until you feel comfortable. This is the only way to make sure things go smoothly. Even if you already know everything there is to know about your topic, make sure you have outlined points, so you are clear and do not stumble when making points. Practicing also extends to hand gestures. Don’t overuse them, but do when appropriate to emphasize points. Keeping you hand straight to your side or in your pockets can be boring.

-Getting nervous is okay. Everyone does. Just remember that everyone wants you too succeed, and will all understand if a mishap does happen. Just shake it off; you are human.
-Even if you do not feel confident, do not let it show. Consciously put your head up, make eye contact, take deep breaths, and relax your shoulders. Remember that you are the one with the information to share.

-Clearly communicate information. This includes visually. Use layouts that can be easily read and understood.

-Don’t shy away from questions. Make sure to end the presentation by answering all questions the audience has. If you don’t have the answer, don’t freak out. Don’t try to make something up, either. Be truthful and admit that you don’t have the information to answer it. Get the person’s contact information and promise to contact them when you find out.

-After a presentation, ask a colleague in the audience for tips on ways to improve. Even the best presenters have room for improvement.

For more tips, visit:

Tips from Professional Trainer

Making Business Presentations Work

and my favorite: Creating Better Presentations

Event Planner Blogsites

For my profile, I interviewed Jennifer Black, an event coordinator. To get more of a feel for how different event planners work, I searched for blogs by people in that profession. Here are some useful ones that I have found and will use to write my repot:

Daniell, at A Shore Occasion in
Maryland, offers stories of her event planning. She seems as though she is well known; she reported that she receives many e-mails of wedding related items to promote on her blog. She talks about visiting venues with clients and seems pretty up to date with current fashions.

Leslie, at Decidedly Uncomplicated in
Washington, DC, says her company makes event planning “uncomplicated” and “undeniably elegant.” The cite especially offers advice for people with upcoming events to plan. Leslie seems as though she is always looking to improve the planning process.

A more humorous, story-telling side of planning is told by “Baja Babe” in her Diary of a Wedding Planner. She tells of specific phone calls where she had to act professional when she really wanted to “go off,” and writes humorous dialogue of dealing with difficult bride-to-be’s.

These professionals say they are “event planners”, but it seems as though all mainly plan for weddings. I can tell that all are very into keeping up with the latest trends by constantly reading media and books. They communicate trends and other styles to their clients after finding out their needs. After finding out what their clients truly want after clear communication, the event planners go back to the planning and find what makes the best fit. It seems to me as though the successful planners are those who know how to uncover clients’ needs and keep clients’ best interests in mind. The planners can then communicate with invitation makers, dress makers, and venues clearly to plan the event.

Writing A Scientific Paper

The Goal

For my Statistics senior seminar, I have to conduct my own experiment and write it up according to scientific guidelines.  I am much more familiar with business writing because I have had many dealing with that type of writing.  I can say that they main way, and perhaps the only way, that scientific papers are like business documents is that they should be written clearly and concisely.  The content has less to do with literary skills and more to do with informing objectively – as author John D. Spurrier says, “not to entertain them, appeal to their emotions, or keep them in suspense.”  Everything must be readily understandable; there is no room for differences in interpretation.  A scientific report must describe results of the study and disclose enough information so that others can assess the observations, repeat the experiment, and examine if conclusions are made accordingly from the data.  Emphasis is placed on logical development, accuracy, and ease of understanding.

The Scientific Community 

Today, scientists must examine a large number of papers, so there is a need for a system that is uniform and concise.  The goal of researchers is not to entice everyone to read their paper, but to inform those who have an interest in their study.  I think that this shows helpful the scientific community is to one another.  Unlike other fields, particularly business, scientists are not so much at competition with each other.  Overall, the goal is to collectively improve in advancement of knowledge.  I experienced this after attending a statistics seminar.  At the end of the statistician’s lecture, most of the professors in the room participated in commenting on ways to improve the study and asked questions.  Everyone seemed in it to help.

Organization

Before writing a scientific report, one must examine the backgrounds of readers and what is already known about the topic.  Obviously, methods must be more clearly defined and described if not much is known.  Most reports contain the following sections: Abstract, Introduction, Methods and Materials, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion.  Things to consider in each section:

Title:  Used by readers to see if there is interest in the topic.  Must completely describe the subject and not be too vague.

Abstract: In business, called Executive Summary.  Must be readable without seeing the rest of the report.  Summarizes all of the remaining sections; a mini-version of the paper.  Principle conclusions are first presented here – don’t keep the reader in suspense, let them know what was found.

Intro:  Tells why research was done and reports of related research and how this study fits in with existing knowledge but how it also differs from previous studies.  Presents methods of investigation and again, the principle results and conclusions.

Methods and Materials:  Shows how the data was collected in a way that can be copied by the reader.  Feature and discuss data used, but not the statistics.

Results:  Statistical analyses, tables, and figures are presented here.

 

Discussion:  Often the hardest to write.  This is where the implications of the statistical analyses are discussed along with recommendations and limitations of the study.  Presents principles, relationships, and generalizations.

Conclusion:  Reinforce main parts on a deeper level because the reader now has a deeper understanding of the study.

Also: Don’t forget the references!!!

 

For more information, visit Scientific Report Writing by Andrew Comrie of the University of Arizona 

Part III: Write Up the Corporate Ladder

It is interesting that even companies who seem to be more technical – Canon, Citigroup, Motorola – all place a high value on good writing.  All say it is very  important to be able to communicate clearly and in a persuasive way through writing.  Writing is not as stressed in business courses so it is rare to have really great business writers today.  Most companies had tests or other processed in the interview to assess the quality of candidates speaking and writing skills.  For employees, the companies offered classes to improve skills.  Poor writing costs companies time and money, so they actually spend some money making sure that that does not happen.

Another interesting point is that there is so much competition right now for the written word: e-mail, tv ads, newspapers, etc.  So it is especially important today to have good writers that can make a piece stand out and communicate in an efficient, concise way.  Because e-mail and other forms of communication are spontaneous, writers need to be developed to where they don’t have to spend a lot of time rewriting, and general grammar rules should be up to par because there may not be enough time to go through editing before it is published on the web.

Part II of Write Up the Corporate Ladder

The interviews were all very helpful – I wish I had read this before I took my business writing class! I will definitely keep this book, though, to refer to in future business writing situations.  Out of the ten people interviewed, some tips were mentioned by all:  have many rough drafts and constantly get feedback, in most situations try not to be too formal: have your voice be heard through your writing, don’t stress on grammar rules: as long as the communication is there and bad grammar doesn’t distract it is ok, the only way to get good at writing is to practice a lot, and finally: know your audience.  Also, what I thought was very helpful was to not be afraid to writie a horrible first draft- just get your thoughts out on paper.  Don’t edit as you go along either, leave that for later.

Some interesting things: Many authors said to not be so elaborate: make your point concise and straight forward.  One author, Marcus Buckinham, actually has a rule to not use adjectives.  This is the opposite of what we learned in elementary English classes!  But I do completely agree with making your point in a clear way and to not fluff it up.  People don’t have time to figure out what your saying if it is not written clearly.  Businesses are all about saving time; time means money.  This also goes back to write the way you talk – Gail Evans does this so that her personality shows through.

A good tip from Richard Bolles was to stop midway through a piece you are writing to edit.  This allows you to see where you have come from and know where to go in the rest of the paper.

I like what Ken Blanchard said: before he writes he tries to put his ego out of the way: not everything you put down will be perfect especially not the first draft.  Just get started on writing!

In regards to not stressing over grammar rules, Greg Farrell makes a good point.  In many ways, writing is like driving: we know the rules, but don’t necessarily pay attention to all of them: how many people actually come to a full stop when they stop at a stop sign?  This doesn’t mean we are swerving all over the road, we are still effective drivers.  This goes to writing, following every single rule isn’t always necessary.

Finally, Michael Lewis says that good writing is having something compelling to say.  Most the authors interviewed did not think they were good writers all their lives.  But they each had something important that they wanted to communicate to others.  Business writing is really just communicating.