How you email says a lot about your confidence, style and appreciation for the other person’s time and thoughts. It’s important to keep in mind that for most, the form of an email is a 1-way letter used to provide a singular thought or ask a question. This format is not as effective in conveying comprehensive thoughts or ideas as say, picking up the phone or holding a meeting. While there are always exceptions to each rule, here are some of my fundamentals when using email to communicate.
Prioritize (highest to lowest): Know the importance of the message and match according to priority.
- In-person Meeting
- Video (Skype, Video Call, Facetime)
- Voice (Conference Call, Phone Call)
- Instant Message (Skype, Messenger)
- Text Message
3 sentences per paragraph not more than 2 paragraphs. Most emails are read on smartphones. Each email is followed by dozens of other emails that receive the same short burst of time and focus or will be pushed to the side for later, which may never come.
Writing a long email? Many back and forth? Conversation via email? Pick up the phone and call. It could take as long to call as it would to write the email.
Need questions answered? Prioritize and group. Number for easy response.
Acronyms? Unless you’re absolutely sure you and your recipient are on the same page, introduce the acronym at the onset. Keep in mind, there are thousands of independent conversations happening at the same time so you may need to introduce the acronym more than once.
Subject line Use this to summarize your email. Most emails are threaded so stay w/ the subject as appropriate. Change the subject once the conversation has shifted.
Always include signature. Always have a signature which includes your name, email address and phone number.
No Wallpaper or Webpage looking emails. Many email clients are set to junk all emails that look as if they come from Constant Contact.
No unique fonts or color. The smartphone can miss formatting and your email may come in blank. Your recipient may not follow up and you just wasted your time.
You have a comprehensive thought and are banging out an email. The email is growing into a novel. Call first. Introduce verbally. Mention you’re going to summarize in an email. Follow up with call.
You have an ask. Call first, see above.
Its late and you want to get your thought out. Mention at the top, you’ll call to follow up then bang out the long email.
Introducing complicated or detailed thoughts. Mention the email is for review and you will call to follow up.