By Roger Perkins,2014-05-17 12:56
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If the students have a major project or long report to complete for any of their subjects, they could complete a feasibility report for the project.

    The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual

    CHAPTER 16

    Writing Memos and Short Reports

COMMUNICATION OBJECTIVES ...............................................

    ? organise memos and reports

    ? plan and write effective memos

    ? apply a five-step plan for a short report

    ? follow the format conventions for the formal report, letter report and memo report

    ? write justification, progress and periodic reports.


    Memos are short written messages for use within an organisation. With the

    increased acceptance of technology in business, more and more memos are being

    circulated by email rather than through paper based internal mail. In workplaces

    where the employees do not need to be computer literate or do not have access to

    computers, the paper based memo will, however, remain an essential form of


Both memos and short reports are generally designed to deal with objective

    information and actions. The principles of plain English and effective business

    writing skills apply to memos and short reports as well as to the other forms of

    writing already covered. When writing short reports, encourage students to think

    carefully about the purpose of their report. This will help them choose the most

    suitable type of report (justification, progress or periodic).


    1. Self Test Exercise: Memos

    Ask the students to complete the Self Test Exercise, presented as a handout

    at the end of this section.

    2. To The Teacher

The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual

Write a memo to your teacher advising that you will be overseas on the date

set for the final exam and asking to make alternative arrangements.

    The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual

    3. Analyse and Improve Collect three different types of memorandums. Analyse them according to

    Table 16.1 on page 410 in the text book. Which categories do they fit into to?

    How effectively have they achieved their intended purpose? Suggest any

    changes which might be necessary to improve them.

    4. Scenario Delegation Memo

    As the Human Resources Coordinator you have been asked to organise

    training programs in customer service for all employees. You have decided to

    delegate this job to another member of your staff. Write him a memorandum

    giving him specific instructions about the content of the training, the numbers

    of staff requiring training, how the training is to be structured, where the

    training must take place and the proposed dates. Include any other

    information you think will be necessary for him to do the task without the need

    to refer back to you.

     Note: This exercise can be used to assess a student’s knowledge of a particular subject area. For instance, the exercise could be based on report

    writing, telephone skills, assertiveness or any other topic.

    5. Scenario Suggestion Memo

    In this Instructor’s Manual, read the solicitor’s letter in the workshop section of

    the previous chapter on Writing Business Letters, Chapter 15. Assume you

    are a partner in that law firm. Write a memo to the author of the letter, a junior

    solicitor, suggesting possible changes. You will have to be careful though

    because this person is easily offended and apart from some minor problems

    with his writing skills does excellent work.

    6. Short Report Brainstorm

    Ask the class to brainstorm possible subjects on which reports might be

    written in the industry they intend to (or already) work in.

    a. List the subject on a flip chart on the wall.

    b. Write a possible purpose statement for each subject.

    The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual

    7. Reporting the Difference

    You are a taxation consultant. Write a short report to a client who runs a small business explaining the difference, for taxation purposes, between: a. a limited company and a partnership, OR

    b. negatively geared property investments and property trusts (listed and


    Do not make any recommendation to the client.

    Explain your reasons for ordering the information in the way you have done.

    8. Progress Report

    Refer to a copy of your course outline or syllabus. Write a progress report covering your work in this course. Make sure that your report deals with all of the types of work that you do in the course, including assignments or projects, coursework, extra reading and field work. Also discuss what you have learned.

    9. Feasibility Report

    If the students have a major project or long report to complete for any of their subjects, they could complete a feasibility report for the project. This will ensure that they are clear about the available resources before they start.

    10. FYI

    Think about the organisation in which you work. You have been asked to organise a training conference for the staff in your department to review the company’s policies and procedures. Write a short report for your immediate supervisor outlining how you would go about this.

    11. Travel Tips

    The organisation you work for is part of a multi-national firm, and many of the staff from your office are getting ready to attend a conference at head office which is overseas. Some staff members are taking their wives and children on the trip. As you have travelled to head office several times, you have been asked to write a short report on its location for circulation amongst the relevant staff. Select an overseas (or domestic, if preferred) destination to write about. You should include details about getting to the hotel from the airport, dining out, shopping, prices and any other activities and information that your colleagues and their families might be interested to know before they arrive.

    The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual


1. Run the Class by Memorandum for One Week

    The week before the class, send a memorandum to each student either at home or

    while they are attending another class to let them know you are unavailable. Advise

    them that there will be no formal class for the following week. Also advise each

    student of a topic that they will be expected to research. Each student must write a

    short report on the topic and brief the class on the topic and their findings during the

    next class (as noted in your memorandum). During the time set for the exercise all

    communication with the teacher on any topic relating to the course must be by


2. Justification Report

    Work in groups of three. This exercise centres around an employee, Manfred

    Hillcott, who has complained that another employee, Shelly Penfold, was selected

    for a supervisory position on the basis of being female rather than on ability. The

    criteria used in the selection process are leadership qualities, ability to work with

    others, educational qualifications and knowledge of business operations.

Prepare a plan for and write a short report justifying the selection of Shelly Penfold.

    This justification report is to be in memo format.

Write a letter report to Manfred Hillcott advising him of the justification report’s


3. More Short Reports

    a. Work in groups of three. Each group should select one topic from the

    syllabus and use the library facilities to research the availability and quality of

    training videos for their chosen topic. Write a formal short report on your


    The exercise could be handed out the previous week and the research done

    in the students’ own time. Most academic institutions have a video catalogue

    as part of the database in the library, so research will not be extensive and the

    need to work as part of a group outside the classroom will assist in building

    teamwork skills. The report could then be written as part of a writing

    workshop in the classroom.

The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual

    The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual

    b. Find an example of a short report in the library or obtain a company report.

    Write a formal report to your instructor discussing the following: i. Is the purpose clear?

    ii. Can the organisation or structure of the report be improved? iii. Is the information relevant, clear and readable?

    iv. Can you identify information that has been repeated?

    v. Do the conclusions summarise the draw the ideas in the report together?

    4. Paper PR

    You work for the Public Relations section of a large company that manufactures and distributes stationery supplies and educational products. In the past week you have received three separate complaints from customers about the poor quality of the paper products they purchased from you. Each of these complaints has specified trouble with feeding A4 paper through the printer, and that bleach marks appear on almost every sheet in every ream. Also, two or three sheets of paper are pulled into the machine at the same time. The customers complaining have stated that they will take their business to another supplier unless i) something is done about their current stock and ii) the quality of future supplies is much improved. Write a memo report to the General Manager of your company explaining the actions you intend to take.

    Write a letter report to the unhappy customers, explaining the circumstances and the actions you will take to guarantee their satisfaction. Evaluate your skills by completing the Self-Checklist on page 422 in the textbook.

    The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual


1. Advantages and Disadvantages of Memos

    Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using a memo to communicate

    information in the workplace. In what situations may a memo be unsuitable?


2. Consider the following situations and discuss whether the indirect, direct or

    routine order of information is most suitable for each short report required.

    a. justification report to your manager explaining why your staff worked

    so much overtime last month

    b. progress report to your customer on which they have to base

    decisions about organising the next stage of construction

    c. memo report to residents in your street about the location for the

    street Christmas party.


Setting Up a New Branch

Harry Melville is the Managing Director of Hazell Engineering. This company is well

    established in Melbourne, and its annual turnover exceeds $10 million. The

    company aims to open a new branch of the business in Sydney.

Hazell Engineering has been established for only five years yet it is already one of

    Victoria’s leading engineering firms. The Managing Director is very confident that

    the company will do well in Sydney by continuing to use its current business

    strategy: innovative engineering solutions designed by its own expert staff.

Harry organised a meeting to discuss the expansion into Sydney. He sent the

    following memo to his Project TeamAnn, Che, Glenn, Katrina and Reno

    outlining the meeting’s purpose and the duties that he will delegate.

    The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual


    TO: Ann, Che, Glenn, Katrina and Reno

    FROM: Harry Melville

    DATE: 12/3/2007

    SUBJECT: Establishing a new branch in Sydney

    I have decided to establish a branch of Hazell Engineering in Sydney by March

    2008. To make this venture a success the company will need to:

    1. Acquire expert staff

    2. Establish itself in a high quality business centre

    3. Install a network computer system to support intranet and Internet facilities

    4. Become part of a professional network in Sydney

     The Sydney branch’s financial, legal and insurance services will be provided by Hazell Engineering’s Head Office in Melbourne.

     The meeting to discuss this venture will be held in my office on 19/3/2007

    The meeting will run from 9.30 a.m. until 12. We will then have a working lunch and

    plan how each person will put their duties into practice. We will brainstorm to

    determine which tasks each person will be responsible for.


    The meeting commenced at 9.30 sharp as scheduled. All five project team

    members were present. Harry opened the meeting by immediately stating the main

    points to be discussed and finalised. He told the others that he wanted the

    company’s success to be repeated in Sydney. Harry suggested making each project

    team member responsible for one of the Sydney agenda items. He used a chart to

    record each area of responsibility alongside the person responsible for it.

     Annstaff recruitment Chethe financial, legal and insurance arm Glennthe location Katrinainformation technology Renoprofessional networking

     Harry knew that although some of the projects were more difficult than

    others, the afternoon brainstorming session would resolve this. Those with the

    easier projects would help the people with the difficult ones.

     The tasks were allocated and discussed before lunch. After the working

    lunch the brainstorming session lasted well over an hour. The six people felt happy

    with the outcome. They were sure that they could manage their own area of

    responsibility but also work well as a team to share the workload when necessary.

    The Business Communication Handbook 6th edition ? Instructor’s Manual


    Harry told the team: ‘I would like you to begin this project immediately and present

    to me on 10 April a short report outlining your progress on the initial stage. As we

    progress towards the decision date I will expect a long report from each of you.

    Please use the correct format for this so I can read it easily and base my decisions

    on it.’

     Reno asked: ‘Would you like some graphics in our long reports?’ ‘Most definitely’, replied Harry, ‘if they help explain your purpose more clearly. But if they clutter or cloud the issues leave them out’. Glenn said: ‘Well, graphics will certainly

    help my report. They will help create a picture of what is happening’.

     They all agreed to meet on 10 April. The short reports were to be submitted

    a week before this, so that each one could be discussed in detail.


1. Analyse Harry Melville’s memo to the staff by:

     a. deciding what type of memo he has written

     b. comparing its order of information with what is appropriate for this

    type of memo. 2. Write a memo as a record of the request that Harry Melville made at the

    meeting for each staff member to give him a short progress report. Ensure

    that you use the appropriate order of information for this type of memo. 3. a. What does Harry expect from his team’s progress reports?

    b. Why is a progress report appropriate at this stage of the business

    venture? 4. Harry Melville obviously knows the difference between a memo, a short

    report and a long report. Outline these differences.

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