This week, we thought we’d share some tips on composing email and getting desired responses from email you send.
Some of these tips are from IT Service’s Tips for Using Email Effectively; others are courtesy
CBS and Dave Johnson, a former Microsoft employee specializing in computing and technology, writing for CBS.
- Consider the content
Consider if email is the best method of communicating your content since it is not always the best way to communicate certain types of information. (Sensitive information, for example, may be better shared in a personal conversation that allows you to gauge the recipient’s response as you share the information.)
- Consider the recipient(s)
Make sure the recipient is the best person to address the content of your email. Since email is an effective way to share information, consider whether the content is useful to anyone other than the primary recipient and whether it is appropriate to share the content with others. Consider cc-ing all those mentioned in the email.
If your email is a request for action or information, only put one person in the “To” field. More than that reduces the likelihood that anyone will act.
- Use an explicit Subject line and put your requests up front.
Busy people often use the Subject line to determine whether they should read the message now or later. A Subject line should be specific, brief, and meaningful. It should quickly and clearly set the recipient’s expectation regarding the topic covered in the body of the email, and if urgent, entice the recipient to read the message soon. Get your request into the first sentence. Provide the details afterward.
- Be clear, specific, and keep it short and simple.
Recipients are much more likely to read your email if it is short and to the point. When dealing with lengthy content, consider whether you can break the content up into separate emails. If not, consider using headings, subheading, and bulleted or numbered lists to break your email up into manageable chunks and help the recipient focus on the important points. Say what you need, when you need it, and who should provide it.
- Anticipate and answer or acknowledge further questions.
Think about what questions the recipient of your email might raise. Address these questions in your original email to help avoid longer than necessary email “threads.”
- Proofread your email before sending.
Make sure the message is clear and concise. Remember that correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation does matter to some recipients.