Eleven ways to improve email.
- Subject Line: In your subject line, give the recipient a reason to read your message. When replying, change the subject line if the topic changes. Make it easy to forward.
- Be specific: Know what you want and communicate it clearly. Ask yourself “what do I want the reader to do immediately after reading this email?” Be prepared for the question: “How can I help you?”
- Ask for Action: Others cannot always guess what we want. What specific action are you looking for?
- Gratitude: If someone agrees to help you, show your appreciation. If the person declines, for whatever reason, thank him or her for considering your request.
- Human-ify: Set up your e-mail software so your name appears with your address.
- Domain communicates: It is more professional to use a business domain (@iese.net or @[myname].com) than generic services like yahoo, hotmail or gmail.
- Signature: Use a professional signature. Here are some good signature examples over at Wisestamp. – I use Wisestamp within google mail)
Example of a professional signature
- CC: Use “cc” only when all recipients know each other. Use “bcc” when sending to a group, to maintain individual anonymity. After “to” put your e-mail address and then put all recipient addresses in the “bcc” line.
- (Please) Follow up kindly: I would love to go to bed knowing that I have responded to every email. I would not sleep much if I did. Please follow up with a copy of the previous email… not “sent email over a week ago and still waiting for response”.
- Keep it Short: If you find yourself in a fourth and fifth paragraph maybe email is not the right medium. Perhaps you could pick up the phone. If you find you are making 2 or 3 different requests… perhaps, ask for the one most important (or easiest for giver?).
- Don’t Send:
- If it is to schedule a meeting. Use doodle or a calendar management application such as google calendar. 10 people looking for a mutually convenient date via email will generate 50 responses, frustration and no meeting.
- If it is in anger. The words will still be there years later when you are no longer angry.
- If it is to criticize. Best by phone or in person. Or not at all.
Any other ways we can improve email? What is your bugbear when it comes to use or mis-use of email?