What is Audience and Purpose of a Memo

A memo is used to communicate the situations and problems in an organization. So we can also say that it is one of the tools that help solve problems. A business memo helps run the business operations smoothly.

To understand the audience and purpose of a memo, we will need to understand what is a memo, when to use a memo and how to write it. In the following paragraphs, we have discussed these questions and have also provided a link to examples to help you have a better understanding of it.

What is a memo?

A memo is a formal way of communication used in the business organizations, government offices, and academic institutions. It’s a short form of memorandum and is a written document used to share information or to ask for an action from a person or a group of people in an organization. It ranges from quick and small latter to a large document with detailed information depending on the need.

Professional establishments use it to convey the operational changes, new decisions, new procedures, important information, policy updates, call for action, price changes etc. Basically, it’s a communication tool that connects the writer with the reader. So it is very important that a memo is written briefly and clearly which justify the purpose of writer and fulfill the need of the audience.

When to use a memo?

The memo has been used for a long time by small to large organizations and professional establishments. It is still an important tool for internal communication in many organizations following traditional a handwritten, typed or printed communication system.

You can use it with email

In the age of the internet and emails, you can leverage the benefits of their speed and easiness. They are fast and one can quickly read and act on it. So it can be a good way to send a detailed document as an attachment.

When you are communicating a crucial information, you can use email with an attachment of memo. This way you can ensure that your memo is saved on the recipient’s local machine even when the email is deleted. And your recipient can refer it whenever required.

You should use it when formatting is important

When you are communicating a detailed information, there will be various sections, tables, lists etc. In this case, using an email body or a normal latter format will not be useful. So you should use a memo in order to be able to format the information in the way you want.

Also, a well-formatted information will be easy to read and understand. It will deliver the information and facts effectively and fulfil the purpose of the communication. So using a memo can be a better option compared to a long and poorly formatted email or any other method.

A memo can be saved and printed

If the information is to be referred to several times and have to be stored for easy and offline access,  memo as in a printable format or as an attachment will be the best option. For example, if the memo is to be pinned to the bulletin board or to be discussed in the meeting, you should write a memo to make your communication printable.

The targetted audience may want to read it later or read it again when needed. They may also want to make it handy, so would want to have it printed. If this is the case, you should use either print and hand over to the audience or should provide it as an attachment if you are sending it via an email.

Use memo to make your communication formal

Since a memo is a formal method of internal or informational communication, it provides you space at the top to include your company information. Include your company logo, company name, names and designations of sender and receiver at the top part of the memo.

You can also use a memo format to communicate with the people outside of your organization, like the vendors, professional peers, consultants, clients and members. A well formatted and formally written memo becomes a significant way of internal and external communication. It prompts required actions and brings desired results.

Use memo when the information is confidential or sensitive

If your information is sensitive, confidential or classified, you should use only the memo. If it’s going to be used in legal proceedings, you should use a memo. You can use password protected memo document in the attachment in the email. Other formats may not be as secure and formal as a memo. By using memo format, you can restrict the access and can make sure that only the desired person reads it.

Use memo when the information is too long or complex

When the information is long and important, including it in the email body makes it difficult to read and print. That’s where a memo form comes to help. When your message is to be used several times or to be discussed in the meetings, it will have to be printed. So writing it in a document format and including it as an attachment will work best.

You can give a brief information or a summary of what is there in the attachment will be enough. Your readers will find it easy to download and store an attachment to print and refer later whenever they need.

Note that whatever the reason for using a memo, it will be better to send it in an email as an attachment rather than providing it in a printed form. This is because an email with a soft copy of the memo will make it easy for your audience to reply or comment. They can refer to the parts of the information while replying to your email or taking a desired action.

How to make a memo?

The style and format of a memo change from one organization to other as there is no fixed or strict rule for the same. You can be formal or little open depending on the professional level, relation with the recipient and the information you are communicating. The style and format can also be flexible depending on the purpose, length, and complexity of the information.

However, there are certain parts that you should include in your memo to make it look like a formal communication method. They include;

  1. Heading section
  2. Opening section
  3. The main body or the context
  4. Tasks or actions section
  5. Summary or conclusion
  6. Discussion section
  7. Closing section
  8. Attachment if necessary

Heading section

Like any formal and business communication letter, a memo should also have a heading section. You have to provide the basic details at the top part of the memo, like the sender’s name, address, date, and subject. This section should also include the designation of the sender, so if you are writing a memo in your organization, you have to include your job title.

Sometimes, the memo is about an urgent task or information. If this is the case, you should include the word “Urgent” in the heading. Write it above all other information in the heading.

Generally, the organizations use a template for business communication documents. So if your organization is using memos extensively for the internal purpose, it will be having a general format for all sections including the heading section. It can be as below.

To:

From:

Date:

Subject:

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“To:” contains the name of the recipient of the memo who will be reading it. You should also include his designation in the organization.

You should address the recipient with his or her full name and designation in any business communication including the memo. If you are a friend or close to the person, you can call him or her in an informal way, i.e. by the first name. For example, “John” in the party who is the chief accountant in your company. But in the business document, you should address the same person with a proper name and designation, i.e. “John Watson, Chief accountant”.

“From:” contains the sender’s name and job title. I.e. your name or the name of the person who is signing the memo.

“Date:” contains the complete current date or the date when the memo was written. Write the date in the format being used in your organization for all communication documents.

“Subject:” tells the reader what the memo is about in one line. When you write a subject line, be as much clear as possible by including meaningful words or phrase. For example, if you are writing a memo about a computer network maintenance in the organization, write “Scheduled computer network maintenance” instead of just “Maintenance”.

Opening section

The beginning is the important part of any written document and is true with the memo as well. Your audience will know the purpose of the memo from the first paragraph. So write it carefully and make it a meaningful opening to make your message clear from the beginning.

The reader should have an overview of what is there in the memo before going into the details. So make it short yet complete in itself. Give your audience the reason to read ahead and understand the complete message and purpose of the memo. The effectiveness of your memo will largely depend on the introduction part.

Context section

You need to create a base in order to positively deliver your message and ensure that the reader also understands it in the same way. It is important that the audience get the message in the correct meaning. It is also important to understand the connection between the information being conveyed and the business aspects.

Creating a background by writing about the circumstances or past events is really tough and tactful task. Mentioning like “Due to the fierce competition in the market…” and other relevant reasons will help readers understand the context of the situation or problem and solution mentioned in the memo.

A background can be created by a couple of lines or a short paragraph to support the solution of a problem. However, you should write only those facts which are relevant to the purpose of the memo and the need of the audience.

Tasks or actions section

As an essence to the communication being done with the memo, you will need to describe the solution or possible action in this section. It includes the tasks or actions that you are going to do or expecting from the audience.

If your memo is written with a purpose of convincing your audience about the action or task that you are going to perform, you can use this section to mention that task or action. It will inform your audience about your next steps in solving the problem or handling the situation. For example, “I will be checking the issue affecting the revenue…”.

While this section conveys a possible solution, you should also be convincing the problem. So include the most relevant information instead of giving a lot of explanations. To be effective in this part, you should do your research and planning before you start writing a memo.

Discussion section

This is the main and longest section of the memo in which you discuss all the points, facts and your ideas. To make it appealing and strong, you should start with the most important information or the fact. You can start with your key recommendations and support it with the other relevant arguments and facts.

This section plays an important role in conveying your idea and convincing your audience of the desired actions. You can prove your solution true and effective by providing strong arguments and relevant points in this section.

Sometimes, you may need to give a reference to a previous memo in your current memo to make your point clear. So you may think about how to cite a memorandum.

It can be done as shown below.

[last name of the author of the referenced memo], [first name and initial of the author]. Memo to [name of the recipient of the referenced memo]. [name of the company], [city], [state]. [date].

Conclusion section

In case your memo contains detailed information and takes more than one page, you should consider for the summary or the conclusion part. It should describe the key points of the memo. Give your audience a quick review along with your final conclusion on the subject.

Closing section

Close the memo with courteous and warm words and thank your audience for taking the time and understanding the message and information. Write how the action can be useful to the reader as well as the organization and what can be done to make it smoother. This section should work like a relaxing part for the reader he or she is going to be significantly affected by the action or the solution to the problem.

Attachment and reference to another memo

If your memo requires your reader to read more information from the other source or if something can’t be included in the memo itself, you can include it as an attachment. It can be a pdf file, a long list, a graph. Mention it after the closing section so that your reader can know that there is an attachment. For example, “Attached: Updated price list for January 2018.”

We hope this article will help you understand the purpose of a memo and how to effectively write it. However, for more understanding and clarity on how an effective memo is written, you can refer to the examples of the memo on the links given below.

Example of memo: http://writing.engr.psu.edu/workbooks/samplememo.html

More examples: http://www.examples.com/education/memo-writing.html