As part of CSI Onsite’s continuing mission to rid the IT world of inefficiencies, we wish to share with you some strategies to combat the electronic scourge of corporate America, the Looooooooooooooooooog email. Don’t laugh; have you ever received an email asking a simple question that the sender managed to boil down to 3 pages long?
Now I can’t speak for everyone but generally speaking, when someone sends me an email that causes me to wastefully expend time and energy, I want to remove the keyboard from their computer and then take the keyboard and start to…Oh… sorry, I forgot my calm down pills today. As people fight to get their inbox to empty no one wants to waste their time plodding through a rambling, multi-page email.
Allow me to share a few “Do”s & “Don’t”s for crafting easy to read, concise, and effective emails.
- Edit your emails. Before you send off an email take the time to proofread it, or have someone skilled in proofing do it for you. Edit for syntax, spelling, grammatical errors, content/context and conciseness. Rule of thumb…do a thorough read through the same number of times as equal to the number of people you are sending it to.
Also consider writing the email in MS Word and using its editing features. Then you can copy the text and past it in your email to send.
- Have Face to Face / Phone Meetings. If the idea or message you are trying to communicate will go beyond 3-6 lines, have a phone or face to face meeting if possible. In other words sending an email when it should be a meeting is not efficient and wastes time. Email isn’t the only medium for your message.
- Know what you are trying to say. Hold that email until you have something specific to share or ask.
- Know what you are talking about. The practice of sending countless or voluminous emails is nothing new. It happens in a lot companies (to make people appear extremely intelligent and productive. Again…wastes of your time, their time, and you aren’t fooling anyone.
- Send Multiple Emails. If you know what you are talking about, and you know your message (what you wish to convey), but it will take a lot of words, consider sending multiple email It will help keep the message clear and (if well written and explained ahead of time) to your recipients.
- Have a ½ Page Signature. Not all of you r email needs a signature, i.e. if all you are saying is “yes” your signature is superfluous. And unless you are Doctor Phil we don’t need to see the inspirational quote at the end of each email.
- Clutter your email with emoticons, cute images, etc… Did you see the word clutter? “Nuff Said.
- Write a book. – Emails are not books, pamphlets, or e-documents. If there is additional information, try attaching that info as supporting docs. If you are putting a large table in your email, you should stop and consider whether it should be in an attachment.
- Spam. Sending your co-worker an extensive of dossier of your past 24 hours is more than likely over kill, not really appreciated, and will get deleted any way. Use Facebook for that stuff, or get off your fanny and walk over to your coworker and share some stories in person.
Aside from keeping the email world free from clutter, it gets your blood moving, builds relationship and increases productivity.
- Forward the Mess. If you are bringing someone into a situation, take the time to bring them up to speed without dragging them through the muck. Instead of taking the time explain, you just forward your email stream. Ever get one of those, “See below..!” messages. Do you really think I want to read the 52 pages back-and-forth …?
This occurs in many instances as a C.Y.A. move on the part of the sender. If this is you…stop it. Save the email history and have it available if the need arises
Making your email brief and concise will increase the likelihood that your recipients will get the point of the email and will more likely get acted upon.
Your readers will go from this:
Remember that some of the most powerful messages have come in small packages. I’ll leave you with this comment by Edward Everett, the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was a Thursday afternoon, November 19th, 1863. Everett’s dedication address was a well-received, 2 hours long speech. After he had finished, he introduced the next speaker and then sat down. A tall, slender man arose and stood at the podium to make a “few appropriate remarks.” His name was Abraham Lincoln, and He spoke for two minutes. We now know this speech as “The Gettysburg Address” and it has inspired millions. I bet you don’t know one word of Everett’s address. Edward Everett summed it up best in a letter to Lincoln, on November 20, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
That’s what I’m talking about! Short and sweet, say what you mean, make it count and don’t waste my ding dang time!! Now, where are those pills…just in case.