Send Emails the Right Way

28 Feb

Need some spice in your life? Tired of the same old same old? Well one part of my life that provides constant change is the way I’m able to communicate. I can telephone, snail mail, email, text, chat, blog, video conference, tweet, facebook, and the list goes on. The best part of this beautiful technological progression is that modern forms of communication have not eliminated need for older forms.

Tweeting is appropriate for quick and concise responses to current news, but blogs allow for more extensive, detailed responses. Email is perfect for sending important information to colleagues and friends, but what if you want to send something more personal? Something like a wedding invitation is better communicated through snail mail.

Many of us can claim with great confidence an expertise in these communication channels. Despite our sincere confidence, a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal may make you humble yourself.  Email, for example, is a good improvement story. A number of common mistakes are made before we click the send button.

Using vague subject lines

Why do we send emails? We want to either convey important information and/or solicit a response. To accomplish either of these tasks we must first get the recipient to open the email. This can be done in a couple of ways.

  • Use differentiating detail. What if a subject line read “Meeting?”Does this subject refer to last week’s meeting, an upcoming meeting, or a meeting that has no impact on your work? Instead of “Meeting,” you could write “Meeting to discuss upcoming changes in personnel.” Now, you have enough detail to decide if this email is worth opening.
  • Add deadlines. Emails that require some kind of action on my part are worth reading right away. Instead of writing “Remove your items from the kitchen,” the title “Remove kitchen items by 3pm” will initiate more action.

Burying the news

Now that you’ve compelled recipients to open the email, give them the information before you lose their attention. You have a very short time slot so noteworthy items like dates, times, and deliverables should be mentioned within the first few lines. Otherwise, you risk the reader not finishing the email and missing out on valuable information. Also, using short paragraphs, good spacing, and section headings can go a long way in getting the news out.

Thinking email works best

With so many ways to communicate, keep in mind that email may not be necessary. Some communications are better on the phone or face-to-face. Other communications require valuable, physical cues that even the best email craftsman cannot transmit through email. Identifying if an email is appropriate to convey your information should be decision number one.

by Cheyenne Owens

Source: Top Ten Mistakes Managers Make With Email – WSJ


One Response to “Send Emails the Right Way”

  1. Jacob Trunsky February 29, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Great post, Cheyenne! Not burying the important information is extremely important, and using bold and colors can help make important details stand out. In addition, design in essential to an email. For me, the more visuals and graphics the better.

    Apple is a company that does a great job with captivating emails. I posted this a few weeks ago, but I think it applies well with your post too:

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