Writing e-mails is so routine that it can become a thoughtless task. As is common occurrence for most daily tasks, we tend not to examine how they can be done better or more efficiently because we are so used to how we’ve always done them. E-mailing is one area where a few small, yet deliberate, changes can make all the difference. You may find that implementing the following tips can greatly increase your e-mail effectiveness.
Tip 1: Decrease the number of topics your e-mail covers. Although it may be tempting (and sometimes necessary) to compact many related issues into one large e-mail, your chances of getting a prompt response are much greater when you keep things short and sweet.
Tip 2: Be sure not to send things frivolously. If you’re intentional and send only necessary e-mails, the recipient will take it seriously when they see your name in their inbox. Think of e-mail more like physical mail that requires postage; if you wouldn’t waste your money on stamps to send out junk mail, why do it with e-mail (especially with business contacts)?
Tip 3: Be direct and straightforward. Ask for what you need so your recipient doesn’t have to waste time trying to decipher what action they should take. People tend to respond better to direction than they do to vagueness.
Tip 4: Similarly, lay out the timeline for them. No one wants to be that person that holds up a co-worker from completing their project on time. However, many folks do this unintentionally because they are simply unaware that completion of their task is needed before things can progress. If you are clear about the time and date by which you need their response, most people will do their best to adhere to your schedule. Without this important piece of information, you risk that the recipient pushes the task aside in favor of other e-mails that do impose deadlines. Considering how most folks procrastinate, neglecting to apply the pressure of a deadline may mean your e-mail receives an untimely response, or is forgotten about entirely.
Tip 5: Send individual messages and if you must copy people on the same e-mail, be sure each person is clear on what’s expected of them. It’s easy for nothing to come of a group e-mail due to the role diffusion-of-responsibility plays in group settings.
Ultimately, you get what you give. If you work hard to craft intentional messages and respond promptly, folks will likely take notice and do what they can to return the favor.