Emails that get attention

August 22, 2010
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , — jonimar @ 10:42 am

Q: I don’t get the responses I’m looking for when I send e-mails at work. People either avoid replying or miss the point. How do I get straight answers to my questions?

A: Corporate e-mail users receive up to 200 e-mails a day. If the recipient only spends a minute on each one, that’s over three hours a day reading e-mail. In an overflowing inbox, you have seconds to grab the reader’s attention and make your e-mail a priority to open and answer.

One topic per e-mail is the surest way to get a clear direct response. E-mails with several items require extra thought and time to address. Points often get missed and replies are slower, if not forgotten. Numbering the items and identifying each topic in the subject line helps.

A subject line that gives enough detail about the message in a few words or includes a call to action such as “Please respond by . . .” attracts the reader, while a friendly opening line and an appreciative closing personalizes the message and builds rapport.

People appreciate brevity. State the purpose of the message up front, then get to your point quickly in a conversational style. Straightforward, short messages that are easy to follow and specify the desired response get dealt with promptly. Incomplete messages, where recipients have to write back for more information, frequently get dropped.

Proofread every message from the reader’s vantage point. E-mails convey emotional tone. Is it neutral, courteous and respectful?

Following these simple steps to be a more effective electronic communicator can create a positive impression, enhance credibility and elicit the responses you want.

Originally printed in The Province, August 22, 2010.


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