Getting on top of emails seems to be a never-ending challenge. Here are five quick tips to improve your email communications (and perhaps your response rate!)
- Ensure your email subject heading is clear. Is your email actionable or information only? What are you as the sender asking your recipient to do? To make this clearer, consider including the action you wish your recipient to take in your subject heading, for example: “For review”, ‘For information”, “For immediate attention”. Also use meaningful subject descriptions to summarise your email subject in a few words – it makes it easy for your recipient to file and retrieve emails.
- Consider using headings within your email content. Headings break up large chunks of text in lengthy emails, a much clearer reading experience for your recipient. You may also find that including headings helps with structuring and ordering of your message. If you have a lot of content, always consider whether email is the best medium to deliver your message…for example, would it be more efficient to deliver your message in person or via a telephone call.
- Be clear who you are sending to. The “To” field should only include recipients who need to take an action. The ‘Cc’ field should only include recipients who do not need to take an action but do need to be across the email content for their information. Use ‘Reply all’ with caution. It should only be used when you have something valuable to add to the conversation that will benefit everyone on the recipient list.
- Be conscious of your tone. There’s no ‘sarcasm font’ in emails (!) so aim to be extra polite. Without visual cues it’s sometimes difficult to accurately interpret meaning behind the words and you may unintentionally offend.
- Include time frames for actions required. Be clear what action you want your recipient to take and by when. This sets clear expectations and can make life much easier for both you and your recipient.