Too many people are bad at email. Today’s post is going to focus on tactical emailing; the type of email being sent to prompt a specific action, which I consider different from writing a memo (a good resource for that here). These are rules I’ve learned over the years and try to train all my new hires on. Let’s dive in.
7 Rules For Effective Emailing
- Should this even be an email? Like I explore in my post on Cal Newport’s “A World Without Email“, often times an email is not the best solution. Establishing a process for situations is one solution. Waiting until you can have synchronous communication on the topic is another.
- Know your audience and your outcome. Use language that your audience will understand (keeping acronyms to a minimum), and move towards the desired outcome (even if you get asked a close ended question). Does your response move the ball closer to the goalline?
- Keep the body short, use bullet points, and be explicit with action items (who owns it, when it is due).
- Subject lines should be short, but specific. Often use a date stamp and indicate if action is required.
- Bad Example: Order Update
- Good Example: X Customer Y Product Order Update 3/7/22 *Action Required*
- All writing should take place above any charts or graphs found in the email. Detail in bullet points what the reader will find below, often text after a chart will be missed.
- Take ownership of getting responses. You’re probably familiar with who will answer right away and who will not. Set reminders to follow up with those who need it.
- Understand that this is asynchronous communication and should be treated as such. In other words, this isn’t a live dialogue so you should try to anticipate questions your reader might have and answer them as best you can up front.
That’s my list! Any you would add to this list or takeaway? I would love to hear it.
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