Don't you wonder, with every piece of paper in your inbox, "Does this ask me to do anything?" And don't you wish the writer would start with that—and then tell you why? Even with short memos and letters, most of us appreciate getting the main point early. For example, what if you're having a busy day as personnel director for your company, and this comes in from an employment agency:
On December 15,1 received a phone call from Mr. Jason Brown from Michigan, who was your director of sailing in the Saginaw school. Mr. Brown, who recently had a fine interview with us, has requested I contact you. He requests a letter of verification of employment, including confirmation of his job title and the duties he performed while in your school. According to Mr. Brown, he needs this to apply for a similar position in the Caribbean.
I would appreciate your help in this matter.
What's the key sentence buried in that letter? It's the one asking for the verification of employment. You can find it without experiencing major frustration, but wouldn't you have preferred the request first—like this:
Would you verify the employment of Mr. Jason Brown?
Mr. Brown was your director of sailing in the Saginaw school [then give the rest of the details]. . . .
Better, isn't it?
For the next memo or letter you write, ask yourself, "Am I asking my reader to do anything?" If you are, try starting with that request—and put it in the form of a question (as in the example you just read).
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