Writing a Business Memo
The purpose of a memo, or memorandum to give it its full title, is to communicate information informally to people, usually colleagues in your own company.
They are sometimes used to communicate information to people external to the company, especially if your organisation has an ongoing contractual relationship with them, for example if they are suppliers or subcontractors to you.
So a memo may be used to inform people of something, such as a meeting date has been confirmed, a meeting is planned , arrangements have changed, weekend working is agreed , a delivery is confirmed . Something everyone needs to know as a point of information, but that does not require formal communication.
These days this is often done via an email, and you may not even think of it as a memo.
The tone and the language should still be business like, and concise.
As with all business documents, where speed and clarity are important, a memo should include a heading for easy reference by the recipient , an introductory paragraph, the main or body section, and a closing paragraph or summary.
If action is required, such as a response, it is a good idea to state that at the appropriate point in the document, and then repeat it at the end of the document.
“Please let me have your response by close of business “or “Please confirm the numbers attending by Friday at the latest “.
This section should list recipients, the sender, the date it was sent, and the subject or title.
If you are using email, make the list of recipients visible to everyone, unless there are privacy issues. This allows people to see if their staff or colleagues have also been informed, or if they will need to pass the message on to them.
Send memos on a “need to know “basis, don’t waste people’s time sending them memos and information that is not relevant to them.
Make sure the title is specific, for example “Urgent Planning Meeting for all zone 3 Managers this afternoon”, rather than “Meeting”.
In a written memo, rather than an email this is the correct format;-
TO: (recipients’ names, job titles)
FROM: (your name, job title)
SUBJECT: (title of the memo)
Memos do not begin with a greeting such as “Dear all”, or “Hello “. No greeting required.
The Introduction should clearly state the purpose or reason for the memo. Keep it brief, a couple of sentences is fine.
If you are addressing a problem or issue, state and briefly explain the issue. If you are introducing a new policy, then say that.
Main or body section
Think about how to convey the required information simply and briefly, but still giving all the facts that are needed. Convey the importance of the issue, briefly mention its implications, and say why the meeting is both urgent and important, or why the arrangement has been changed. If you are including an attachment, mention and explain it here.
Use paragraphs, headings and subsections as you would in any document. Bullet point and numbered points may be helpful too.
Mention any action necessary. “I will welcome comments “or” Attendees should confirm “
Closing paragraph or summary
Here summarise, or make recommendations, or repeat your call to action. The reader should be clear what they need to do, or what next steps are required.
“Please let me have your comments by close of business “or “Please confirm the numbers attending by Friday at the latest “.
Include your contact information for easy reference by the reader, particularly if they may not have it to hand, and you need them to contact you
No closing greeting such as “yours sincerely” or “regards” is used in a memo
List attachments, for example; – Attachment –Meeting Agenda.
– Directions to meeting location