Making Sure Your Emails See the Light of Day

Posted By Laurie Richards on July 08, 2015 in Customer Service

While there are many tips on e-mail writing, what is often overlooked in the larger scheme of things is the fact that thousands of e-mails everyday are not even read. Barely glanced at. Indeed, not even opened. So how do you make sure that your e-mails are seeing the light of day?

Before the advent of e-mail, many workers – and even managers – were able to get away with putting only the most important things in writing. Today, people at all levels of an organization communicate through writing, especially on the Internet. Some more effectively than others.

This much writing causes two problems:

First, most of us are better at saying it in person and on the phone than in writing. We talk all day. We have more practice at it. And, yes, practice makes perfect (or at least better).

Second, we’re all inundated with more than we could ever possibly read. That means your reader may not read your stuff!

What to do? Here are five reader friendly tips to make sure that your writing gets read.

  1. Make your subject line interesting. “Health Insurance” e-mails go in the “later” pile. “Friday deadline for health insurance” gets read. Take a second look at your subject line. Would you read an e-mail with that subject line? Will your reader read it?
  2. Think “Executive Summary.” Give your reader the bottom-line before getting into your rationale and what leads you to your decision. If they want more information, they’ll ask for it. If necessary, include a resource, websites, and other resource information that your reader can consider for more details.
  3. Make responding easy – and if a response is required, make that clear. Using phrasing such as “Unless I hear differently from you by Friday, I’ll move forward with Option B,” make it less likely that you’ll miss deadlines. Ask the reader to respond by writing “I vote yes” or another appropriate phrase in the subject line. It makes it easy for the reader- and for you!
  4. Make it visual. The average reader spends less than four seconds on your one-page document. Using bold subheads including Recommendation: and Summary: and Next Steps: ensures the reader will get the most critical information.
  5. Use short paragraphs and bullet points. It’s faster and easier for your reader when type is surrounded by white space. Paragraphs should be no longer than five lines. Double-space between paragraphs and bullet points.

With more and more companies relying on e-mail messaging, it is imperative that your message is clear and concise – and is read!



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