An essential skill that a business manager must develop is the ability to write effective memos. A well-drafted and crisp memo can convey a message or an idea in a powerful manner. On the other hand, a badly written memo would not only fail to serve its purpose, it would show the writer in a poor light.
What are the features that a well-crafted memo must have?

Plan your memo before actually writing it

Do you know what you want to say? Are you conveying some information, asking for a decision or putting up a proposal?

You may want to make a note of the points that you want to cover before you begin writing.

Stick to a framework when you write

Depending upon the nature of the contents, you may need an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion.

The first part of your memo should clearly say what it is about and why it is important. Be careful not to ramble or you will lose the reader's interest at this stage itself.

Now put down what you want to convey. If it is possible, use bullet points and be careful to format the contents in a consistent manner. If you are presenting any information, state where you have got it from. Provide a link if it is appropriate.

Each point that you write should be complete in itself and lead on to the next in a logical manner.

In memos in which you are asking for an approval, the conclusion is probably the most important part. Clearly state what you want. Make your conclusion as unambiguous as possible.

Importance of editing and formatting

Don't underestimate the importance of giving your memo an orderly and business-like look. The paragraphs should be evenly spaced and aligned. If you vary the font size for headings and sub-headings, ensure that you do this consistently.

Why is this important? Poor formatting or an error in using the correct font size could make the reader doubt the accuracy of your data or the diligence with which you have done your work. A little time spent on looking over what you have written and making corrections can save you from making an embarrassing mistake.

Addressing the memo

Select your audience carefully. Forward the memo only to the people who are concerned with the issue that you are writing about. Sending copies to all and sundry is not a good idea. Re-check the final list to ascertain that all the intended recipients are included.

Confidential information

Does your memo contain any details that should not be disseminated widely. If it does, mention that to the persons to whom you are sending the communication. But bear in mind that a written document creates a permanent record and it could be copied or forwarded to others.

Make time for a final review

When you are writing a memo, a good principle to follow is to put yourself in the shoes of the reader. Try and anticipate the questions that may arise and incorporate the answers in your memo. Once you finish, read it to see if it comprehensively delivers the message that you are seeking to convey.