Write emails worth readingAuthor: Catherine | Filed under: Language
You click open an email. You encounter a message peppered with endless question marks and a paragraph that is so dauntingly long and rambling, your first reaction is to close the window and flag it for later. Much later.
I dread these types of emails because they mean I have to expend extra effort sifting through the message and determining its point. And then there’s always the possibility that I’m misinterpreting the message.
Do you write effective emails? Do they convey your message clearly and get the desired results? Be certain with this quick checklist of steps to follow when drafting an email.
- Make sure email is the best way to deliver your message. Actually think about it. If you can anticipate the reader having follow-up questions that require back-and-forth discussion, email isn’t the most effective way to communicate. We have a variety of tools that we can use, including legs and voices.
- Think about what you are trying to convey in your email. What’s the main point? Center on that to maintain a focused message. Don’t add anything unnecessary or unrelated as it will create confusion. Don’t brain dump.
- Use the subject line effectively. Don’t forward an email thread with someone else’s crappy subject line. Summarize the content of the email but keep it brief and specific. Above all, don’t start a sentence in the subject line and finish it in the body of the email. This may seem clever, but it’s the fastest way to lose a recipient’s attention.
- Break up text using spacing, headings, and bulleted or numbered lists. There’s nothing worse than opening an email with a solid block of text. It seems rambling and vague, and readers will skim it and miss important information. Unless, of course, there is no important information buried in there, and then why are you wasting your time? Chunk it.
- Indicate clearly if you are asking recipients to take action. If you send an email, and then wonder why you never hear back, look at your phrasing. Is it completely clear, without any doubt, what action you are expecting the recipient to take? Is it reasonable?
- Proof it. Read the email out loud or backwards to check for typos and correctness. Check all the fields including recipients, subject line, and body. Should there be an attachment? Don’t be the one that clicks Send only to realize you typed “what” instead of “wants” and no one knows what you want.
These steps don’t need to take a lot of time. Once you’ve established your own process, it becomes part of your routine. Let’s put email to work – one message at a time.