Thursday, June 19, 2008


Surveys of top executives made by the American Management Association have repeatedly found the most important expectation of memos and reports is -- Why are they written and what result is expected?

It is also the rarest approach. How many times have you received a memo that does not reveal its purpose until the last paragraph, or the last line? Or ever? Nothing is more disconcerting, or irritating, than to read a nasty surprise sprung at the end. It seems a rule of thumb that the more hesitant the writer is to state his/her purpose, the lengthier the document. State your purpose and expectations right up front. Say them first. ["This is to report on the shortage of whatsits in Kelowna, and to request authorization for emergency funding...."]

Don't waste everyone's time by "throat-clearing" before you get to the point. It helps readers to know right off the bat whether the memo is for info only, requests an opinion, or requires some form of action. If you adopt this straight­forward style, people will start noticing memos from you over others', and appreciate your professionalism. Most of all, it says you respect the reader's time.

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