"Regardless of the changes in technology, the market for well-crafted messages will always have an audience." — Steve Burnett (The Burnett Group)
You’re busy and I’m busy. We’re all busy. And nothing is more frustrating than a long, small font, rambling email. Ironically, you and I are probably guilty of this. Time is a non-renewable resource and emails can be the bulldozer to our rainforest of time. Whether personal or business, the ability to compose efficient and effective emails will make or break you as a leader. I’m sure you can count the number of times you had to dig yourself out of the hole your email inadvertently dug. So how do you avoid such issues?
1. Think Content First
Ask yourself before you write, “What is your goal and purpose of this email?” You want to keep your content engaging, interesting, newsworthy, and most importantly short. Don’t tell a story. Get to the point.
2. A Good Subject Title
Your subject line should tell exactly what to expect when someone opens the email. Don’t allow your subject title to be too ambiguous or confusing. People search for past emails with the subject title. Make it easy to find your email again.
3. Font Matters
Avoid extremes. Emails with black size 8 font can make someone cross-eyed and irritable, and hot pink and yellow font at size 30 might give someone a seizure. Keep it as easy to read as possible.
4. Be Smart with Mass Emailing.
Create a newsletter. I like MailChimp. Here you can create a newsletter for free. Add pictures, colors, and new fonts, with quick/short sentences. Break up your content with headings, subheadings, and bullet points. Add links for further reading or links for downloadable files. Give your reader options.
5. Avoid the Cc
Use the Bcc. When you add emails to the Cc, it instantly becomes impersonal. Do you really want all your readers to know 100’s of people’s emails in your address book?
6. Create a Professional Signature
This is your business card. Every time you write an email, you are passing it out. It should look professional. Too much information can make you look cluttered and disorganized. However, if you have too little information you can miss out on a great opportunity. Think, “What information do people need?” Use something like WiseStamp (its Free!). One word of caution: Be careful adding your phone number. You may not want certain people calling you.
7. Include Only One Clear Action Item
In your email, state the purpose clearly. Then give your reader a call to action. This needs to be something measurable. Ask for a response with a deadline. Be sure this Action Item is at the beginning of the email. If you have more than one, use numbers or bullet points. Even ask for a reply under your numbered questions.
8. Learn to Forward
Before you forward an email, change the subject title and erase the FWD: This will help you avoid your email looking like a chain letter. By the way, be sure to forward this post to 100 of your closest friends or something bad could happen. When you forward to a large group use Bcc (blind copy) not Cc.
9. Proof Read
Read it out loud and slowly before you send it. Typos can hurt your credibility.
10. Always be Thankful
People like to be thanked. Thank them for the email in your reply. Thank them for reading your email. If your email is happy, your reader will be too.
11. HEY! AVOID TONE. PLEASE !!!
People get upset with emails. They read into your words and what you (supposedly) meant. Your reader will have time to let it sit, linger, and grow into unhealthy emotionally charged anger. The cause: Your font, use of CAPS, and punctuation. Furthermore, don’t write an email or respond to one when you are angry. Send it to your spouse or a friend and ask them for a quick edit. People tend to say too much in an email. Best to avoid long explanations. Keep it short. Stick to the facts. You can hug the person when you see them.
Take Home Points:
1. Make a Good Subject Line
2. Get to the Point Quickly (clear and concise)
3. Add One Measurable Action Plan (more than one use Bullet Points or Numbers)
4. Use Appropriate Font and Size
5. Never Cc Mass People
6. Proof Read Out Loud
7. Make a Professional Signature
8. Be Yourself
It is worth your time to always think through your email before you send it. Most likely, this will be your most trusted asset in your communication with people.
What types of emails annoy you?
What did I miss?
What tips do you have for writing better emails?
Comment below, forward to a friend, and further the conversation.