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Common Document Formats & Strategies Memos, E-mail, Letters Customized & Workplace Training AAI/Portland Community College Facilitated by George Knox
P. A. T. § Purpose – Topic – Goals (Inform, persuade, entertain, record, cite, respond, etc. ) – Requirements (Schedule, materials, budget, tools, delivery, etc. ) § Audience – Who? Multiple audiences? – Expectations (Content, style, delivery, etc. ) – Requirements § Technique
Memo and E-mail § Purpose – – – Written record (paper or electronic) Information re: policies and procedures Request for internal action Documentation of decisions or actions “Paper trail”
Memo and E-mail § Audience – Internal (usually) – Individual, departmental or company-wide – Knowledge of company organization, values, policies, procedures, etc. – Familiar with jargon and acronyms – Attention to internal communications? Note: E-mail is becoming more common for external communications
Technique: Basic Format § Subject line § Opening § Body § Closing Tip: Use “signature” with e-mail but NOT with memo
Specific Format: Memos § § § § Set margins at 1 to 1½ inch Line up heading words with Subject heading Single space within paragraphs Double space between paragraphs Indent lines following lists Justify at left, use ragged right lines Do not use complimentary close or signature
See page 19 in workbook for Memo layout DATE: 10/27/04 TO: Lois Nguyen FROM: George Knox SUBJECT: FORMATTING AND STATIONERY FOR MEMOS Welcome to Multimedia, Lois! I’m pleased to be able to answer your questions about formatting and stationery for memos in the organization. Please examine the enclosed samples and call me if you have additional questions. Enclosures
Specific Format: E-mail § Include a salutation or use receiver’s name in first sentence § Use word-wrap § Single-space within paragraphs and double-space between paragraphs § Write in complete sentences § DON’T USE ALL CAPS § Include a signature block § Use stationary only if appropriate and accepted
Follow the basic memo format with some modification
Technique: Kinds of Memos § Procedure and Information Memos § Request and Reply Memos § Confirmation (or Denial) Memos § Other?
Procedure/Information Memos § Routine messages § “Downward” flow § Informational in nature § Goal of employee participation and cooperation § Direct or indirect depending on nature of message (good news, bad news, etc. ) Tip: Tone is important for success.
Request and Reply Memos § Request for information and action – Persuasive in nature – Direct or indirect depending on nature of request and source of request § Reply to previous communication – Direct response to initiator – Indirect response to wider audience
Confirmation Memos § “Incident” or “To File” reports § Documentation of decisions, directives, and discussions § Names and titles of people involved § Major issues described § Request for confirmation of receipt § Direct message
Technique: Strategies § Headings: Date, To, From, Subject § Single topic § Conciseness § Conversational tone § “Cues” and “Signposts”
Technique: Strategies § Direct vs. Indirect message – Direct (“Frontloaded”) message places main point early in the document – Indirect (“Backloaded”) message places main point late in the document – Use direct approach for “good” news or when acceptance is assured – Use indirect approach for “bad” news or when persuasion is necessary
Techniques: Delivery § Memos – Use standard in-house delivery unless otherwise requested § E-mail – Use in-house standards (company vs. personal web-based e-mail, stationary, HTML vs. text only, etc. ) within company – Contact outside audiences for restrictions § Avoid common e-mail mistakes
Common E-mail Mistakes § § § Address errors Long messages or attachments Misleading or vague subject lines Inappropriate content Lack of discretion in responses Inappropriate copying and forwarding Source: John Edwards, “The Six Most Common Mistakes in Sending E-mail”, Bottom Line Business, October 1997.
When using e-mail … § § § § Be concise Send attachments only when necessary Proof before you send Consider cultural differences Use humor with caution Maintain professionalism Save a copy of your sent messages Assume all communications are monitored and saved
Letters § Purpose – Written record (Paper) – Formal information, persuasive or responsive communication – Documentation with “wet” signature – “Official” communication with letterhead – Contractual agreement – “Paper trail”
Letters § Audience – External (usually) – May be unfamiliar with internal organization, values, procedures, etc. – May be unfamiliar with jargon and acronyms – May be inattentive to communication – Seeking formal or “official” message
Technique: Basic Format § Set margins at 1 to 1 ½ inch § Use 10 to 12 point font size § Single space within paragraphs, double-space between paragraphs § Use block (all lines starting at left margin) or modified block (date and closing lines to the right) or semi-block (date and closing lines to the right, indented paragraphs) See page 21 in the workbook for Letter layout
Technique: Kinds of Letters § Routine Letters – Request for information and action – Direct reply § Good News – Approved request – Commendation/Recommendation § Bad News Letters – Denied request – Criticism/disciplinary action/termination § Persuasive Letters – Sales -Proposals
Technique: Strategies § Single topic § Formal style and tone § “Official” letterhead and signature § “Cues” and “Signposts” § Request for action
Technique: Strategies § Direct vs. Indirect message – “Frontload” Routine and Good News Letters – “Backload” Bad News Letters – For Persuasive Letters, use the message that best fits the audience Tip: If cost is involved, you probably should “backload”.
Communicating Bad News § Goals – Make the audience understand accept – Maintain positive image of organization – Make message clear so additional communication is unnecessary – Avoid creating legal liability
Communicating Bad News § Strategies – Indirect message • Buffer with a neutral or positive opening • Give reasons or causes for bad news • Clearly state bad news, providing alternatives or “next steps” if possible • Close with a personal, future-looking statement Tip: Use subordinating or passive language (“Although your claim cannot be processed under current guidelines, we can provide a list of alternative …. ”)
Communicating Bad News § Strategies – Avoiding Liability • Do not use abusive language (defamation) or careless language implying liability • Do not state or imply views that run contrary to your organization • Do not admit or imply responsibility without checking with legal counsel • Do not use “official” documents or equipment to communicate your personal views
Persuasive Writing Strategies: § Gain attention – Review problem and state action taken – Stimulate a question and offer an answer – State a benefit to the audience § Build interest – Offer strong supports – Suggest direct and indirect benefits – Avoid emotionality
Persuasive Writing Strategies: § Reduce resistance – Counter possible arguments – Demonstrate credibility § Motivate action – Request specific action and repeat benefits § Reinforce business relationship