In order to build an effective business message, it is important to structure your communication so that the receiver understands the flow of ideas. This lesson explains six different formats to consider when writing your message.
Organizing Your Message
Have you ever had to prepare a message at work only to find yourself staring at a blank screen because you were unsure how to present what you had to say? The reader of your message has an expectation that it will have a certain logical flow that will allow him or her to grasp the main points. It is your job to make sure the message is structured and organized, so the information is clear for your readers. In this lesson, we'll go over how to structure and organize your message.
Santino is a staff consultant for Yummy Supermarkets. His job entails writing for business every day in order to help the supermarket make good business decisions. He will be our guide and introduce us to all of the ways your message can be organized. There are six main ways to establish your message and present your ideas.
General Organizational Pattern
The first type of structure and organization is the general organizational pattern, which is found throughout most companies. In this method, established company guidelines are provided for you to follow in order to complete your message. As an example, Santino's company uses corporate memos to communicate within the company. A memo contains a general organizational pattern of to, from, subject, references, objective, etc. Santino's advice is to look at example of previous memos, lab reports, and corporate summaries to guide you in how you organize your information.
Cause/effect allows you to organize information by examining why something happened or the effects of something occurring at work. For example, Santino's last assignment was to prepare a report on why sales nationwide for snacks had decreased in their stores. Words such as 'caused,' 'resulted,' and 'affected' are usually signs of a cause and effect structure. Santino's report stated that snack food sales declining in the supermarket chain nationwide were due to the massive amount of consumers starting New Year's diets. He reported that the supermarket should see an increase once consumers return to their normal eating habits.
Using chronological order, a structure based on the time-order of events or a storyline, allows you to give a report on the order of an incident happening or the steps of implementation. For example, Santino has used this type of organization when he had to provide a summary on a delivery of fresh produce out of California. His report mentioned dates and times of each stop of the truck on its route.
The compare/contrast organizational structure involves examining both similarities and differences of a situation or item. The paper must look at both sides or it would only be a comparison. Last month, Santino was tasked with reporting whether the company should invest in electric or diesel delivery trucks. He had to write a report giving both the similarities and differences of each diesel and electric to their current gas-powered vehicles.
When using emphatic order, ideas are arranged in the order of most important to least important. The most important ideas are usually mentioned first to grab the reader's attention. Santino suggests using this method when the objective is persuasion. The supermarket president was persuaded by one of Santino's emphatic papers to do away with coupon cards in the store. Santino suggested that his research showed consumers like to receive the discount prices without having to worry about having to use their frequent shopping card. He started his message with:
'By agreeing to eliminate the need for shoppers to use frequent shopping cards to receive our sales prices, studies have shown that our supermarket sales will increase over 7% per store.'
This was the most important reason to management because increasing their financial gain is always an attention-getter.
The last way of organizing a message is problem and solution. This is when the writer explains a business problem and develops a solution. Santino uses this type of format most frequently at his job. Most of his job revolves around solving problems for the supermarket's national business. He recently was promoted due to his last report, which solved the problem of how to increase overall sales.
Santino was able to identify through a research study that consumers wanted more interaction in their daily shopping. He developed a new written advertising plan that incorporated scent and sounds into aisle displays. He sent the final report of his findings and creative recommendations to all of the stores to implement. The result was that all of the supermarkets now have a fresh chocolate smell emanating from the candy aisle and babies laughing in the baby aisle. The sensory advertising solution has helped the company have a banner sales year.
In business writing, it is important to have an organized plan as to how you will be presenting information. There are different structural ways to organize your ideas for reader consumption:
- General organizational pattern is when established company guidelines are provided for you to follow in order to complete your message.
- Cause/effect is another way to organize information by examining why something happened or the effects of something occurring at work.
- Chronological order is based on the time-order of events or a storyline.
- Compare/contrast examines both similarities and differences of a situation or item.
- Emphatic order is when ideas are arranged in the order of most important to least important.
- Problem/solution is when the writer explains a business problem and develops a solution.
Each of these ways allows a writer to inform and state a message that best communicates the objective. Headings and subheadings along with a table of contents can also improve idea flow for the reader. Santino hopes that you have gained some insight into organizing business messages from his examples.
Once you've finished with this lesson, you should have the ability to:
- Explain the importance of presenting information in an organized way when writing for business
- Describe six structural ways to organize business writing