Sometimes it’s easy to forget that communicating is more than the spoken word. It’s also non-verbal, specifically written communication. That means that every time we tweet, blog, create slides or send an email we’re using a form of communication.
In the years I’ve had my business, my clients have consulted with me regarding their written communication because they realize how incredibly powerful it is and the lasting impression it leaves with their readers.
For this post, let’s focus on emails. Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Remember to use an effective subject line. This is the first contact you have with your reader so you need to say something memorable that encourages the reader to even open your email. For example, which of these are you most likely to read: “quarterly results” or “second quarterly results are on the rise.”
2. Bottom line up front (BLUF). This is a term used in journalism and means that we don’t want to bury the most important part of the message by saving it until the end of our note. Move it right to the top where it’ll get more attention from your reader.
3. Keep it short and simple (KISS). Another acronym that has value. We’re all aware that our listeners’ attention spans are short, however the same applies to our readers. Being succinct is a tremendous skill in all aspects of communication as this shows we know how to get to the point.
4. The recipient matters. We’ve all had the experience of having our computer populate a name before we complete entering it…but is it the correct name or just something close to the correct name? It’s worth your time to double check the receiver(s) of your email in advance to avoid the embarrassment of inadvertently sending it to the wrong person or the wrong people. That’s an oops moment to avoid.
5. Format makes a difference. Most of our readers are pressed for time (or think they are!). Therefore when we want to make it easier to read an email, consider changing text to bullets, indenting, boldfacing or highlighting. This way key information readily stands out.
BONUS: It’s risky to assume our email was successfully transmitted and received. Therefore, I strongly advise you maintain a tracking system so if you don’t receive a timely response you can follow-up. When you do, try another form of communicating like calling, which by the way, still works.