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Why You Should Read Your Memo Out Loud

In a world where so many are overworked, over-stressed, overstimulated, the challenge for anybody who wants to have an impact on their colleagues is to get people to pay attention to what they have to say and resist the temptation to interrupt at any given opportunity. And it turns out, the best way to get people to pay attention to what you have to say is to say things in a way that are worth paying attention to.

When we felt there was an memo or email we were about to publish or sent that was really important, we would literally sit down together and read the them aloud to each other. And truth be told, we’d often do it, believe it or not, in a funny voice – on the theory that if the memo/email sounded really good verbally, and sounded really good in a funny voice, there must be something there.

What do we mean by “good”?

An opening section, a lead, that just stopped you in your tracks and really grabbed your attention, a memorable use of either data or storytelling that was really going to stick to the ribs of whoever reads it.

Because they feel it’s a tremendous discipline to force them to – ask myself, not “Am I just saying this as clearly as I can?” but “Am I saying it as memorably as I can?” And to me, this is the huge opportunity for people who want to get their points of view heard and stick. Ask yourself, whether you’re composing an email or writing a memo, “When I start off, am I starting off with a lead that quite literally stops people in their tracks?” People who have a hundred emails to process that day: “I’ve got to make the time to read this one.”

Secondly, when I try to make my case, “Am I using data in interesting and clever ways? Am I telling a story that gets it out of the realm of the rational and puts it in the realm of the emotional?”

Whatever you do, and I’m not suggesting everybody read their memos in a funny voice, but whatever you do, ask yourself as a communicator, “Am I creating material that is as memorable as I can make it?” Because that’s how you cut through the clutter of the day.

Or simply ask yourself, “can i do better?”


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