I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.—Mark Twain
If you’re like us, you probably send and receive hundreds of emails each week. This means hundreds of opportunities to communicate with colleagues, managers and clients. But, are your emails as effective as they could be?
How do you write an email that gets read and drives action? Here are three quick tips for your next email:
1. Write specific headlines.
General headlines, like “Monthly Report” are likely to go unread. People are too busy to wade through emails to uncover what’s relevant. Show them what’s important by putting specific, action-oriented headlines: “Please Review: Decision needed by 4/24”. A call to a specific action will guide the receiver of your email right to the content that needs a specific decision or response.
2. Keep message to one screen shot.
A busy executive has about 30 seconds to read any email before moving on. If you can’t keep it short, you risk losing your audience. So skip background info or save it for attachments. Think like a journalist and start with the lead. A trick for this: write a draft, then flip the order. Put your last sentence–where you make the request for information–right up at the top.
3. Break up chunks of text with bullets.
Our brains need white space to process information. Keep your paragraphs short (2-3 sentences tops) and add bullets as need to chunk the text. Your readers will (secretly) thank you.
If you feel like you can’t shorten your message, you may want to rethink your delivery method. If a subject is more complex, consider scheduling a call or meeting face to face instead to make sure your message is delivered clearly and effectively.