We’ve all been there; you’ve spent hours crafting the perfectly worded email about an important project, only to find out that no one bothered to read your message. Don’t you wish that you could write emails that people would actually read?
Well, fear no more. Here are some little known tips for getting your point across more effectively by email – and making sure it gets read in the first place.
Secret #1: The Subject Line Matters
It’s often an overlooked part of the email message, but don’t underestimate the power of a good subject line. The subject line is the part of your message that will make the reader either open or ignore your email.
When you’re getting ready to craft your message take a minute to make sure that the subject line 1) accurately describes the topic of the main body text 2) can easily be found by the reader later. For example, if you’re writing a follow up to a recent meeting, consider writing “Project X: 7/20/12 Meeting Summary” instead of, “Thursday’s Meeting Follow Up.” In all likelihood, your audience will have had more than one meeting on Thursday, so it is very important that you include some clarifying specifics. By including the exact project name for all of the emails related to your project, you can also help your co-workers to find all of your messages for a given project more quickly by using the email system’s sort function.
Secret #2: Turn long messages into attachments
Simply put, any messages that go beyond one page of text should really be written as a memo attachment to an email. Keep in mind that your reader may forward the message to other colleagues, and no one wants to have to scroll through lines and lines of text just to get to a rambling, main message.
Secret #3: Avoid email Ping-Pong
Instead of wasting time on a drawn-out, one line, back and forth email exchange with co-workers, consider a five minute phone call instead. If you want to have a written record of the things you discussed over the phone, send a brief outline of the phone conversation as a response to the email. That way both you and your co-worker can have a well-organized and concise record of the project, and you’ve saved hours of email square dancing.
Secret #4: Organize your message
When you think of modern email systems and mobile devices the part that jumps out is the preview pane. Make sure to grab your readers’ attention by putting the most important information in the top of message, so that it will appear here. Also, don’t be afraid to use bullet points or numbered lists in an email, particularly if your message includes action points for your co-workers. You may even want to bold and underline upcoming deadlines or meetings, so that your co-workers are not caught off guard by an impending deadline.
Secret #5: Always proofread
Always Proofread: there is nothing that can degrade your professional reputation as quickly as a grammatical or typographical error. Be sure to double check your messages before hitting send, so that you can be confident that you haven’t made any errors. While you’re proofreading your message, don’t forget to double check that you’ve included all the important points, as well as all the necessary people in your audience.
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