Thursday, September 15, 2011

Plan your emails correctly

Author: Barney Thom

When ot comes to writing emails, you have to make sure every one you send is carefully planned and well thought out. A way to learn how to plan and write an effective email, that will get you your desired response, is to enroll on a Better Writing course.

Here are some tips, to get your started:

1. Plan properly

Before you write a new message, answer these questions:

  • Why am I writing this?
  • What outcome am I looking for?

If you can't answer these questions, it's probably best not to write. People get enough junk in their inbox as it is, without you adding to it! Don't send an email unless you have to.

Your answers should be precise:

  • I am writing to invite Pat to the board meeting to do a presentation.
  • I need her to say yes or no – and if she cannot do it, to suggest someone else who can.

Goals will help to focus your content.

Emails should have one main purpose. They should either:

  • Provide information – the board meeting is at 3pm, or
  • Request information – where did you put the data projector? or
  • Ask for action – can you book me a flight to Hong Kong?

Try deciding which category your email fits into. Avoid writing emails that fit into more than one category if possible.

2. Write a precise subject in the Subject field

This makes it easier for the recipient to grasp why you've emailed them, and what you want them to do.

The subject line often determines whether the email is read.

Avoid subjects like: "Hi," "One more thing…" or "FYI." Instead, try:

  • Lunch is rescheduled to Friday @ 1pm.
  • Reminder: Monday is "St. Peter's Day" – no classes.
  • HELP: Can you defrag my C drive?
  • Thanks for the new printer – works great!

3. Get straight to the point

Your recipient is probably busy. So keep your email crisp and get to the point straight away – avoid long-winded introductions. Be brief – fit it on one screen.

4. Make it easy to quote

The recipient may forward parts of your email to other people. You can help them by keeping your paragraphs short, and using a double-return in between each paragraph. This will make them easy to copy and paste.

By enrolling on a Better Writing course, you will learn in more depth, the essential tips and advice on email planning and writing, that will ensure that every email you send is read, understood and responded to promptly.

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About the Author

Barney Thom

CTJT Creative Director