Making Sure Your Emails See the Light of Day
Jul 08, 2015
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
Laurie Richards is an accomplished international speaker who works with thousands of executives and association leaders. Known for her practical, interactive, and entertaining approach, Richards works with leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, sales people, and other professionals on improving communication at every level. She also lends her voice to video and audio programs in voice-over work. Richards’ experience as an international speaker and speaker coach comes into play as she helps clients strategically plan outcome-based presentations, put power into a PowerPoint (no more bored audiences), prepare for media interviews, manage crisis (before, during, and after), grow morale, build stronger teams, and improve everyday communications to directly affect the bottom line -- including new business pitches, state-of-the-organization addresses, sales presentations, and meetings. Many of Richards’ programs include personality profiling using proven Myers-Briggs, DISC, Social Styles, and other valid instruments to help clients work better as teams, improve efficiencies, select best candidates, and coach employees. Richards began her career as a legislative correspondent for Public Broadcasting. She managed leader communications for the National Pork Producers Council—the nation's largest commodity organization and originator of the successful, “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign. Richards has hosted radio and television shows, managed one of the nation’s fastest growing public relations agencies, launched award-winning public affairs programs, and managed highly effective grassroots lobbying efforts, and facilitated professional development programs for Fortune 500 companies and associations. Richards is described as "enthusiastic, professional, effective, practical, savvy, inspiring, and enlightening." Clients note her strengths as “an innate charismatic style coupled with the ability to really connect with her audience and bring practical real-life experiences we can use immediately.” Her business clients span throughout the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia giving her first-hand experience and cross-cultural awareness. To remain relevant, Richards’ learning material includes current information reflecting today’s high-speed lifestyles, cultural changes, technological advancements, and shifting priorities. Richards has degrees in communication and business management and has earned masters’ degrees in business management and psychology. She has a variety of certifications in micro-expressions and psychological profiling. Richards is currently working toward her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology.