Updated: Apr 14
Your email is competing with hundreds of others for the recipient's attention. Here are seven ways to compose emails that people will read, answer, and act on.
Get straight to the point. Make your request in the first few sentences. Be polite but concise. Try an opening like, "Great meeting, Madison. Thanks for your participation. I have one additional question…"
Cut and then cut more. Review your email sentence by sentence. Get rid of sentences that don’t achieve a vital purpose.
Have a one screen limit. Make content glanceable and no longer than a screen. Assume your reader will be distracted, busy, and in a rush. The more people have to scroll, the less interested they'll be.
Watch your language. It may be tempting to use industry jargon or big words to inflate your ideas. But pretentious language doesn’t make you sound smart, and it could repel the reader. Write in a way anyone will understand. For example, use "things that could affect the merger" instead of "issues potentially impacting the successful completion of the merger."
Use an informal tone. Casual writing draws readers, and it often has the added benefit of concise and direct.
Make the subject line your BFF. Write a short and informative subject line. A generic or blank subject line will ensure your message gets lost in the recipient's inbox. Be specific and highlight the action needed and subject. Try “action requested: budget” instead of “budget”, or “information: 4/28 training”.
Format like you mean it! Use subheadings and bullet points. A good rule is one thought per sentence. If there are too many linked ideas in one sentence, the reader may get lost and give up.
Watch your tone. Although I have talked about the need for being concise, don't do it at the expense of creating anxiety. "Let's talk", may cause worry. Instead, explain, such as, "This is a good idea. Let's see how we can work it into the project plan."