On Effective Emails

I get my fair bit of email every day. Probably more than the average person, but nowhere near as much as people who really do get a lot of email. What I see everyday is failure to write good, effective emails. Thus, I want to touch on this a little bit.

What is an effective email? To me this is very clear. An effective email is one that achieves the desired result, completing the reason for it being sent in the first place. Whether it is someone agreeing to help you, someone giving you the right information that you wanted or someone answering a question that you had, an effective email will increase the chances of a positive and timely response.

Let’s consider written communication for a moment. It is tricky. There are fewer nuances than when we speak with one another and the interpretation is even more in the hands of the reader. “Communication is what the listener does” applies here more than ever. For this reason, we need to always be writing emails in the mindset of the specific recipient.

An effective email is short, to the point and clearly structured while still being polite (nine times out of ten, that passive aggressive sentence is totally uncalled for). You need to specifically put yourself in the mind of the specific person you are writing any given email to, and write to reach your goals.

If I get an email that is just a wall of text with the desired action buried, it is hard for me to process. I may well have to read the email twice, first to know what the person wants and second to get the context. Thus, lead with the reason for you writing the email. This is something you were taught when writing letters: “I am writing to you in regards to…”.

Another tip is to make sure the indented respondent can reply quickly to your email by asking a specific question, or even limiting the initial response to just a yes/no situation. The easier it is to respond, the more likely you are to receive a timely reply.

As you see, it is all about putting yourself in the mind of the recipient. What type of person is he/she? How would he/she read this text? How can I make it easy for him/her to answer quickly and positively to my request?

Keep thinking about all of these things and I assure you that the people you email will be happier, and you will have many more favorable and quick answers to your emails. Plus, you’ll quickly be known as that person who is great at email.

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