How to Write a Thesis Statement in the Professional World

A thesis statement is an elusive thing of beauty: a good one is hard to find. But when you’ve found the right one – oh, what joy! Life makes sense again. In this blog post, you will learn how to write a thesis statement for clear emails, direct memos, and compelling presentations.

I remember working on thesis statements in school. Do they work the same way in the professional world?

For the most part, yes. A thesis statement is a thesis statement is a thesis statement. The purpose of a thesis statement is to let your audience know – whoever that audience may be – what your argument is (for professional writing purposes, you may translate “argument” into “main idea” or “purpose”).

The goal of a thesis statement is to communicate some sort of answer to a question. For example, if in your job you were tasked with answering the question: Why is our school lunch program not attracting more participants? Your thesis statement would then be your answer to that question, based on your research.

Therefore, it is essential that you are clear about the question you are answering before you try writing a thesis statement.

You may be communicating your main idea via an email, memo, white paper, or presentation. As a result of the various ways you may communicate your thesis statement, there is no one way to “write” a thesis statement. However, this blog post will take you through three main mediums where you may be writing a thesis statement in order to help you draw parallels across the mediums.

The goal of this blog post is for you to take the tools outlined here and apply them wherever you will be communicating your thesis statement.

The three forms of communication that I will be exploring here are:

  1. Email;
  2. Memo; and
  3. Presentation.

How to Write a Thesis Statement in an Email

Emails are ubiquitous. Individuals shoot emails off to each other all. the. time. And, if you’ve been in a corporate office environment for longer than a week, you are likely to be on the receiving end of an email chain that you would rather not be on, as individuals “reply all” with multiple questions–none of them addressing you.

That’s why I want you to be a top-notch email communicator and, when you need to send an email, follow these tips:

1. Make sure your email has a point. This point is your thesis statement and should be clear, concise, and actionable.

2. Make sure your point is clearly (and quickly!) identifiable. When I write emails, I like to bold the text of my main idea and, if appropriate, set it off from the other text in that email. For example, if I were to write an email to my boss about a report I had just finished, it might look something like this:

Pat [fictional boss’s name],

I’ve attached the report that you asked me to write up.

My main findings are that high school students understand the importance of eating healthy, but sacrifice health for convenience.

In the report, I’ve including key snapshots of student interviews, as well as a summary overview of all the data I collected. Please let me know if you have any questions.

This email is short, concise, and clear. I have given my thesis statement in such a way that my boss will be able to clearly understand what it is that I am sending to them.

Of course, this is not the way that every email should be written. However, I have found that when trying to communicate a main idea or purpose via email, it is best to be clear and direct.

How to Write a Thesis Statement in a Memo

Memos, like emails, take all forms. The basic ideas for writing an email that needs to communicate a main idea follows here for memo writing: Be clear, concise, and direct. I would only add the following for a memo:

Provide some sort of introduction for your reader. This introduction could be the rationale for why you undertook the project, an anecdote about the project, or a few sentences about the impact and significance of your thesis statement. The introduction is really going to depend on your audience. For example, what a memo looks like in a law firm will likely vary from what it would look like for an educational non-profit focused on providing healthy and convenient meals. As a result of how formats for memos can change, be sure to clarify with your stakeholder what they expect to see from the memo before you turn it in.

Regardless, your thesis statement should clearly, concisely, and directly address whatever your main idea is.

How to Write a Thesis Statement in a PowerPoint Presentation

PowerPoint presentations sometimes get a bad rap for being boring. I’ve sat through enough presentations to know that sometimes, they are. However, if you have a clear and compelling message (i.e. your thesis statement), your PowerPoint should be effective.

The same ideas for how to write a thesis statement via email and memo apply here, with, I believe (depending on your audience), the following exception: PowerPoints (or any visual presentation structure) allow you to use visuals in a way to emphasize your points.

Nancy Duarte, author of Slideology, wrote about the power of visual information in helping clarify your main ideas. She makes the argument that “to succeed as a presenter, you must think like a designer” (p. 83). In this, she means that you have to think about your audience and successfully communicate complicated ideas in intuitive and appealing ways. While this isn’t necessarily the same thing as crafting a clear, concise, and direct thesis statement, having the thesis statement is requisite to creating a compelling and intuitive presentation.

See Nancy Duarte speak more about her ideas in this TED talk.

The Main Ideas

Hopefully, you got some ideas about how to write a thesis statement for the professional world. Here are the main ideas that you should take away from this blog post:

  1. A thesis statement answers a question. Clarity about the type of question you are asking will help you have a clear thesis statement.
  2. Thesis statements can be communicated in multiple forms in the professional world (e.g. emails, memos, and presentations). Each form of communication comes with its own challenges and opportunities, but your thesis statement should always be clear, concise, and direct.

Let us know if you have any other tips for crafting a professional thesis statement!

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.

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