When you need to send a message via the medium of the written word – email or hard copy memo – make sure that it’s the best medium for your particular situation, not the first one you thought of or the one you usually think of. First, go through the Workplace Communication Planning Process thoroughly:
1. Define your objectives for the message in terms of intended outcomes. ‘As a result of this message, my readers will … ‘ Said another way, what problem are you trying to solve?
2. Define and describe your readers. What do you know about them from a demographic and psychographic perspective that could influence how you communicate with them?
3. Then, create an appropriate reader-centric structure for your message with the focused content you need to accomplish your objectives.
4. Remember that the tone of your words can have a lot of impact on your readers, so choose the best words you can think of for the task before you. Use clear, specific and simple words your readers will easily understand and process.
You now have a much clearer picture of what you’re about to write. But, before you actually craft it on paper or on screen, refine it and proofread it, ask yourself if the written word is still the best communication medium for transmitting this message and solving this particular problem. Conclude that as a result of a focused analytical process, not in the absence of it.
Writing may be an overall effective and efficient choice for workplace communication, but it’s clearly not the best one for every situation and obviously isn’t the only one you have available. Remember that the only thing worse that a bad memo is a great memo that should have been a phone call or in-person chat instead.
As workplace communicators, you have lots of choices – variations on the written word (emails, hard copy memos, letters, hand written notes), face-to-face communication, phone calls or messages, small group or large group presentations, phone or video conferences, etc. No one medium works best every time or in every situation.
So, as the ancient knight warned in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ … ‘Choose wisely!’.