Writing Emails and Memos

Communicating effectively in business involves using words in a variety of formats. Whether as part of a speech or a sales brochure, or in a host of other ways, your goal is to get your message across clearly with words. When people understand your message they understand your business and its purpose better.

Consider the plethora of words that are part of a corporation's annual report. These words accompany the financial statements and their myriad of numbers. Words explain what a business did in the past, what they are currently doing, and what they plan to do in the future. In addition, words often form the narratives that help explain the "story" behind the "numbers" in business.

We're going to look at the simplest forms of business communications this month, emails and memos. In subsequent months, we'll look at more complicated forms of writing.

Emails

Email use in business usually falls into three categories:-

As an an internal form of communication whereby employees of an enterprise communicate between each other. This may be inter-office email or email sent from a central headquarters to satellite locations of an enterprise. They may be mobile communications as well - for example a sales manager emailing his sales force out on the road making client calls.

Email is also an external form of communication, whereby a company communicates with those who are not employees. This is email communications directed towards customers, suppliers, government agencies, and such.

The above two types of emails can be as informal or as formal as the writer chooses. It depends on the reason for the message and who they are directing the message to at the time. This is why emails are so versatile and convenient.

A third type of email is the "Sales" type email. This is email where an enterprise looks to inspire action from a recipient. Whoever opts-in to receive communications from a company may find they receive regular emails trying to persuade them to buy something, try something, sign up for something, and the like.

With this type of email, the most important element is the "Subject Line." It must pique a recipient's interest so that they proceed to open the email. A good Subject Line says to the recipient that it's important they read the email now. It states a benefit in a few words, such as "Get Your Free Report Today and Build Your Business Faster."

Writing a good Sales email entails making it personal. The writer must talk directly to the recipient, not make the email sound like a form letter directed to a generic audience. It must include a "Call to Action" to encourage the recipient to do something such as place an order or sign up for a newsletter. It must make this call to action early on. In addition, this type of email mustn't be too long or the recipient will delete it and get to the next email in their inbox.

A couple of things you might notice when writing an email are Cc and Bcc.  CC stands for "carbon copy", which is a throwback to the days of the good old typewriter.  Carbon paper was used to type multiple copies of a letter etc.  In an email program, if you want to send a copy of your email to multiple recipients you can add their email address into the Cc section.  If you do this, everyone who receives the email will be able to see who else got a copy, which can be useful, but let's face it, in business sometimes you don't want other people to know who you've sent the email to, in this case you use the Bcc section, which stands for "blind carbon copy".  Any email addresses entered in here will receive a copy of the mail, but no one else will be able to see their email address.

Memos

Email has replaced many paper forms of communication in business today and even face-to-face chat in many instances within organizations. However, formal Memos or Memorandums still have a place in business today. Most often they are found on bulletin boards in organizations of all sizes – or undergo transmission via email as well.

The intent of a memo is to communicate within an organization. A formal memo has a company's imprint at the top, similar to a company's letterhead. It consists of the company name and the designation 'Memorandum." Below this the writer states the date of the communication. The memo writer can also include a memo number for easier filing.

Next, a memo has a 'To" section, and then a "From" section. These state exactly who the memo is for (an individual or group) and who the writer of the memo is; below these are the "Subject." It's actually very basic, with no need for addresses as it's solely intended for internal use.

A memo is typically brief, usually a paragraph to three paragraphs on one page. They can be shorter or longer as well, consisting of multiple pages. Think of the ones you usually see on a lunchroom bulletin board and the like and you see that one page is the norm.

A memo gives useful information to readers to keep them informed. A company can post updates via memos, for example stating how their fundraising drive for a charitable organization is going. Alternatively, a memo can cause a person to take action. A company may, through a memo, invite employees to sign up for a company function.

The key to writing a good memo is to convey your message in a clear, concise manner. Organized thoughts, printed neatly on paper, with plenty of white space, make a memo look professional and make it easy-to-read.

Emails and Memos are two ways that businesses communicate and educate. Emails and Memos are more like snippets of information, often intended to direct people to other sources of more detailed information. So they should be short and precise, but don't forget the niceties.  You should still say "Hello", "thank you" and "goodbye", otherwise you might come across as abrupt and even a bit rude.  If you realise you have a lot to say, think about using a different form of communication and attach it to the memo or the email.

Emails and memos are two special types of business writing that help enterprises "go about their business" of communicating each day.

Readability

Words: 855
Paragraphs: 19
Sentences: 57
Average sentences per paragraph: 3.00
Average words per sentence: 15.00
Average characters per word: 4.84
Flesch Reading Ease: 54.27
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 9.00

Automated Readability Index:

9.00