Writing Scenarios and Practice    
     This section looks at a few of the most commonly required forms of business writing, several of which can be applied for home use. Documents such as memos, letters, and reports are used daily to inform or inquire. Regardless of their explicit purpose, they must be written accurately, professionally, and honestly. They should be free of error, and be logically constructed for maximum effectiveness.

  EFFECTIVE MEMO WRITING AND CHECKLIST
 
-- include all identifying info
        -- organization's logo or letterhead if appropriate
        -- "to," "from," "subject," and "date" lines
        -- full name without Mrs. or Mrs. (may include professional designation: Dean, Dr., Provost, etc.)

 -- state purpose clearly: requesting? authorizing? explaining?
        This is to inform you that xxx; The purpose of this memo is to xxx;  I want to congratulate you on xxx.
 
 -- use headings & lists
        --these allow certain readers to decide what to read
        -- headings quickly summarize and aid in understanding
        -- under various headings, you may want to explain who should do what
            Ramirez: set up workshop     King: design packets for workshop      West: design web site

 -- Memo Checklist:
   1  correct identifying info for your organization?  
   2  clearly stated purpose?
   3  headings to help readers?
   4  provided appropriate info or background?
   5  highlighted important actions?

  -- Checklist for email Memos:
   1  used appropriate tone?
   2  carefully wrote and proofread before sending?
   3  avoided negativity or discourteousness?
   4  provided accurate info under a short, clear SUBJECT LINE?
 
EXERCISES
  1 Write a memo to your boss at Champion Electronics about the status of the work-area renovation program, and what so far has, and has not, been accomplished (including cleaning, painting, rearranging furniture).

  2  Write a memo to your fellow employees requesting that everyone take part in keeping the break room appliances clean.

Remember to consult checklist before sending!

 

TYPES OF BUSINESS LETTERS
  Inquiry   Response to an Inquiry
  Claim   Adjustment
 
INQUIRIES

     -- purpose?
     -- how to get a response?
        --state reason for writing that person or company/organization
        -- get quickly to the point and clearly your questions
        -- don't assume the help: communicate how helpful a response will be
        -- if a short answer is requested, include a stamped, self-addressed envelop
     -- correct format?

EXERCISES
1  Brainstorm ideas for a letter that will inquire about the best software to purchase for a desktop publishing business in your home.  Write the letter.

2  You've booked a week off-season at a favorite vacation spot. An unavoidable conflict has arisen. Write a letter inquiring whether the booking can be moved backward several weeks.

 

 RESPONSE TO AN INQUIRY
     -- make response easier by referring to the questions by number, if possible
     -- if question/s can't be answered, explain why but offer to assist with other requests
     -- correct format?

EXERCISES
 1  Write a response to the letter above.

 

 CLAIMS

     -- claims are courteous, reasonable complaints
     -- purpose: to make the recipient understand your personal honesty and fairness
     -- company response to fair & reasonable letters?
     -- format:
        -- clearly identify the goods or services you're writing about: serial numbers, date of service, etc.
        -- explain the problem specifically and clearly
        -- suggest a fair outcome or solution to the complaint
        -- conclude politely

EXERCISES
 1 Your long-distance provider (pick one) has charged you at a higher rate than you previously signed on to, costing you a significantly higher amount. Write a claim letter explaining the situation and providing a reasonable adjustment.

 2 When you arrived at the hotel where you had made vacation reservations, you were told that the room you'd reserved was not available, though they had a smaller one in another building, which you were forced to accept. Write the hotel's management explaining how your family was inconvenienced.

 3 You lost a ten dollar bill in the change machine at the Main Street Carwash. Write a letter for compensation of the lost amount.

 

 ADJUSTMENTS
     -- What does this letter accomplish?
     -- grant request, expressing regret about the situation; sound positive
     -- if impossible to request, try to sound upbeat, saving as much customer goodwill as possible
        -- if denying request, state your company's position
        -- inform so that a future problem can be avoided

EXERCISES
 1 You're the manager of the above carwash at which a customer lost ten dollars in a change-machine. Respond positively to the request for reimbursement.

 2 As manager of the above hotel where the customer wants to change set a booking back two weeks, write a letter informing her that the hotel is unable to grant the request.

REPORTS

     We can't cover everything, but we can talk about informal reports. You may be asked to submit such a report to explain or inform your employer about an activity you've been engaged in. For example, you may have to write a trip report explaining expenses, a progress report on a project you head, or meeting minutes for your department. 

Trip Report: 
Often in memo form, this records info you learned at a conference, meeting, seminar, etc. After the memo heading and memo info, place additional info under headings. You may want to summarize what you learned under SUMMARY, explain other viewpoints or comments made under DISCUSSION, and suggest to your employer action to be taken under RECOMMENDATION.
     CHECKLIST:
       1  Purpose of trip explained?
       2  important info highlighted?
       3  included any handouts or info with report?

EXERCISE: On behalf of your office, you are sent to a seminar to learn about new software for desktop publishing. You are introduced to Adobe PageMaker, Microsoft Word, and Corel WordPerfect. Write an informal report in memo form offering your employer the info she needs to know.

 

Progress Report: Write this report when your employer needs to know what action has been taken to date on a project you head. It's an intermediate form of communication that makes everyone current on how a project is moving forward.
     CHECKLIST:
        1  clearly stated what the report is about?
        2  use suitable organization for easy reader-access?
        3  honestly reported on progress, and alerted reader to possible future problems/opportunities?
        4  included any supporting materials?

EXERCISE: You've been asked to organize training for employees to use the new P-card within the next month. What seemed like a fairly easy task has become more complicated for you when you learn that there are no existing materials to use as handouts for the training classes. Also, a number of employees have scheduled vacations and can't be trained within the month. Write your boss a report informing her of the progress you've made, and what difficulties you're encountering.

 

Meeting Minutes: Minutes constitute an official record for your organization. As such, they need to include the meeting's logistical details (when, where, why, who, etc.), an accurate and objective record, and a positive representation of the meeting and its participants. 

Although impossible to record every utterance, you should note all main topics discusses, and what actions were taken. For example, record names of people who reported to group, made motions and seconded them, and the outcome of all votes. If the discussion moves around too rapidly, or is out of order, ask for a clarification.

   CHECKLIST
        1  recorded all important info regarding the meeting and who was/was not there?
        2  recorded events accurately?
        3  represented the meeting and its participants in a positively?

EXERCISE: Pretend you are recording minutes for the "meeting" you're currently at. After the heading, name of group, and date, list the attendees, and then in separate paragraphs attempt to record topics covered so far. 

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