Nine Ways to Make Email Work For You – Not Against You

by terrywelford

in Communication, Productivity

Businesswoman With Laptop and "At" SignA recent study found that, on average, we spend 2.5 hours of the workday day on email. My first thought was, “Hey, that’s not so bad.” But if you do the math, this translates to approximately 75 work days a year on email. 75 work days! I don’t know about you, but I want some of those days back.

Don’t get me wrong – email is a wonderful thing. It can be an efficient way to get information out to a lot of people. But to keep it efficient, you want to be sure you are using it effectively. With the volume of email that everyone receives today, how can you create emails that your recipients will actually read and respond to in a timely manner? Below are nine tips for creating emails that work.

1. Before you begin, think about your message before you write it. Organize your thoughts. Consider your audience. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of this email? What action do I need from the recipient?

2. Make your subject line a headline so the recipient knows what your email is about. Be specific. A subject line that simply says “Upcoming Meeting” is not specific enough. Your recipient may have several upcoming meetings. A more effective subject line is “Reminder of 10:00 Meeting on 8/9 on XYZ Project.”

3. Use “EOM” – End of Message. Put all of your relevant info into your subject line and finish with EOM. This tells your recipient that everything he/she needs to know is in the subject line and, therefore, he/she doesn’t need to open the email.

4. Specify the response you want – your “call to action.” You can put this in your subject line or in the first or second sentence of your email. “Please rsvp by August 3.”

5. Include your contact info – for example, your phone number if you want the person to call you. Do this even with internal messages. The easier you make it for someone to respond, the more likely they will.

6. Make one point per email. How many times have you crammed many different items in an email and then wondered why your recipient only responded to one or two? If you need to communicate with someone about several different things, consider separate emails. The recipient can respond to each individually and in the appropriate time frame. For example, one topic might require a quick, short reply, while another might need some research.

7. If you want to include several points, because they relate to the same project or topic, present each point in a separate numbered or bulleted paragraph. This makes each point stand out, increasing the likelihood that each one will be addressed.

8. Don’t make the email longer than it needs to be. A long email can be discouraging to read. Use short paragraphs and blank lines (white space) between paragraphs.

9. Don’t overuse the “High Priority” or “Urgent” option. We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf. Eventually people stopped paying attention. Save these options for only those times when you truly need it. Your recipients will know you mean it and, therefore, are more likely to respond accordingly.

If you follow these nine simple tips, you help to ensure that your emails will be read and responded to. And maybe you’ll even get a few of those 75 days back!

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