Be Heard (and remembered)

Guide to Life: Format a Memorandum

Scroll over the points to see our directions.

We all want to be heard. In fact, you could argue that this is one of the basic needs and driving forces for human action — it’s why people write poetry, run for office, commit large-scale crimes. Then there are times when you just want to say something that doesn’t require such a planned, impassioned course of action: you want to crack a joke, make a toast, tell a story. This is extemporaneous, off the cuff.

Finally, there are times when you’ve got something to say and there’s no apparent channel to deliver the message; it’s neither super important nor a throwaway comment. Among friends, an email will do. But if it involves colleagues, there’s a very specific tool at your disposal: the memorandum, a simple document that communicates a record of events or observations. If you’re the boss, you might use a memorandum to address the lackadaisical behavior of your employees. If you’re a mid-level manager, you might use it to congratulate another mid-level manager on his track record of volunteerism in the community. If you’re an intern, you might use it to make a joke and then get fired.

Here, we break down a real memo from GP HQ, written by one J. Berger to the rest of the Gear Patrol staff.


The Memorandum

Praise for a Clutch Performance

TO: All GP Staffers
FROM: J. Berger, Editor
15 December 2013
SUBJECT: C. Wright’s Performance

Because a memo is, by nature, professional, open with a simple professional header that includes the name (or category) of your recipients, your name, the date and the subject.

On December 14, 2013, eight young men, residents of Brooklyn, took the field at Prospect Park Stadium for game 10 in the Prospect Park Football League (PPFL) season, a game colloquially referred to as the Snow Bowl and widely considered the most important game of the year, despite a few critical absences, including one J. Berger. It should be noted that the reason Berger’s absence remains unknown to the league, though it’s speculated that he’s keeping quiet to avoid an investigation by the PPFL into violations of league rules about off-the-field conduct pursuant to Section D.4.ii, Ethical Considerations of Carousal for Sporting Gentlemen.

Get into facts right away. Tricia from HR barely has enough time to make coffee, let alone dig for a thesis. On the other hand, who cares. This is your memo. In this case, the author makes it clear that the memo is a joke, but it’s hard to tell what the payoff is. Make them wait a little.

The game was a doozy.

That’s a good line for a memo.

Of chief importance for this cable is the performance of C. Wright, an unknown in the league until December 7 when a standout performance earned him Rookie of the Week honors. With the field blanketed in snow on December 14 and the starting QB a shivering wreck, Wright stepped in and threw four TDs while picking off two passes on defense, leading his team to a shutout victory. Wright’s performance was described by teammates as “dominant” (#23, Coppola, QB), “surprising” (#11, Lowell, team captain), and “an all-­around pleasure to take in, much like Handel’s Tamerlano, with hair of similar length” (old guy with binoculars sitting on the West Drive overpass, eating popcorn).

Even if the memo is a gag, it should have heart. In this case, it’s clear that C.Wright is indeed being praised for his abilities. Provide evidence for your stance on a certain issue. Whenever possible, bring in the experts; if they don’t exist, make them up.

It’s speculated that Wright’s proclivity to Five Guys has been an artifice to disguise his skill on the football field.

Wright deserves public accolades for this performance.

Don’t miss an opportunity to poke fun, but always close on a positive note. Distribute widely using a blind carbon copy and then go out for a coffee. Let the whole thing sink in.

J. Berger