How to Write a Killer Policy Memo
About This Course
Have you ever felt lost when starting a memo or a report? Do you worry that your writing isn’t as powerful and persuasive as you want it to be? Do you want to write memos that get you noticed?
Like it or not, the world runs on memos. But if you’re like most people, no one ever taught you how to write a memo, much less a killer memo. But guess what, there is a straightforward formula for writing great memos, and everyone can master it.
In this course I will teach you what makes a memo a killer memo and walk you step by step through the process I have used to help thousands of students learn how to write killer memos.
Length: 2 hours
Category: Professional skills
Target audience: Everyone who writes memos for a living
Included in this course:
– Two hours of rich learning content
– Lifetime access
– Practice exercises and interactive quizzes
– Downloadable templates and resources
– Take the course on your phone
A. Trevor Thrall, Ph.D.
About the Instructor
Trevor Thrall is a co-founder of E38 Academy and an associate professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government where he teaches courses in national and international security.
Trevor is also a senior fellow for the Cato Institute’s Defense and Foreign Policy Department where he cohosts the Power Problems podcast.
Having taught for over 20 years, Trevor has helped thousands of students learn to write killer memos.
We’ll set the table by discussing why good memo writing is so difficult and so important. We’ll talk about some of the big mistakes people frequently make, what makes memos “killer memos,” and we’ll take a first look at the five-step process and why it makes writing great memos so much easier.
This section goes deep on how to make sure your memo meets the needs of your audience. We’ll identify the four critical questions you need to ask before you get started and look at how answering them streamlines the whole writing process.
This section covers what is probably the most challenging step of writing a killer memo: figuring out the best way to address the problems and questions at hand. We’ll look at examples and talk about some of the most common analytical approaches.
This section delves into the actual writing side of the killer memo process. Even the best analysis won’t be very useful if your memo is so poorly organized that people can’t follow your argument. We’ll start with the importance of outlining, walk through the standard structure for an analytical memo, and show how to make your memo truly stand out by using “road signs.”
There are some fundamental truths about great writing, but memos are a unique format. Killer memos demand a level of clarity, concision, and confidence that is unlike most other kinds of writing. We’ll look at the keys to making sure your writing is powerful, persuasive, and memorable.
This section introduces an incredibly powerful tool that surprisingly few people take advantage of in their writing – the revision process. If you ever wondered what separates good writers from great writers, wonder no more. Great writers take the time to step back, get feedback, and polish their work.
In many cases, writing the memo is just the first step. If it gets traction, you’re going to wind up presenting your arguments to people. In this section we’ll talk about the keys to giving an effective briefing with a “guest speaker,” E38 Academy co-founder Christopher Savos, a 22-year veteran of the CIA who has given thousands of briefings.
In this last section we’ll review what we’ve learned and review some of the most common questions memo writers have about the writing process.