Business Writing Tip #18 – It’s about email

In emails say what you need to say and move on.

Most people I know suffer from severe cases of email overload. I know people who have multiple email addresses, each of which gets maybe 20 or 30 separate emails each day. Some need action, some are for information, some are spam …

You want people to read your email, not just ‘trash’ it. You want to make it easy for people to read it, and you want to make it easy for them to know if they need to do something and, if so, what they need to do.

Two Top Tips for Email

1.  Make your subject line meaningful.

  • If it’s about an upcoming committee meeting say that. For example:
  • Agenda items for staff development c’tee meeting – 30 September – please read
  • Need agenda items for October board meeting – submission date 15 September
  • If you are sending them something to read, say what and why
  • Report – 1st quarter sales figures – for information
  • October Board Meeting – agenda – submission date for papers
  • First quarter sales figures – for information
  • Interview report – executive secretary – read and discuss

2.   Put your main point in the first paragraph and use bullet points and short paragraphs to make it easy to read.

Example 1

Here are the agenda items for the staff development committee meeting. Please read them and let me know if you need further information before the meeting on 30 September.

I’ve:

  • developed this list from the previous agenda and from comments a few people have made
  • cleared it with the GM
  • distributed it to all committee members and to the committee chair

Example 2

The next board meeting is on October 5 2012 from 10.00 to 13.00. I have attached the draft agenda. Please:

  • submit additional agenda items and supporting papers by 15 September
  • email them to myPA@xyzco.com

Example 3

Here are the first quarter sales figures. Please read them.

You don’t need to take action on anything, but you should be familiar with them, and with sales trends.

Example 4

Here are the results of the interviews for the executive secretary position. I have made a recommendation (see summary at beginning of report):

  • Please read the report and let’s discuss it
  • Wednesday afternoon is good for me. Let me know if you can make it then, or if we need to find another time

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