Tips For More
Effective Email Communication
recent report estimated that over 7 trillion emails were sent worldwide
last year! Spam messages are jamming in-boxes across the globe and
the average office worker now gets between 60-200 messages a day.
no one denies the obvious productivity gains we've realized from the
efficiencies of email communication, many people find themselves drowning
in all these messages.
are eight tips that will make your email communications more effective.
email challenges are featured in two new Houndville Business
Animations. These short, colorful programs make perfect
meeting starters and will complement your next staff meeting
or training session.
Up The Wrong Tree
deals with accidentally sending an email intended for
one person to your entire company.
Dogs Are Created Equal
highlights the importance of not prejudging your organization's
programs may be previewed for free by clicking
being clear and concise with your message.
You'll save time and your reader will appreciate it.
using bulleted points to clearly express your thoughts.
has a different style of how they intake information.
communication works best if you clearly outline the points you're
trying to get across in an easy to understand format.
extra time while authoring an email pays big dividends by giving your
reader a clear understanding of your message. Remember, if your email
is written with the purpose to educate, inform or persuade, then making
sure to get your point across is even more critical.
the sheer volume of email messages most business people receive, there's
an inverse relationship between the volume of text and successfully
making the point. Most people will immediately read and understand
a ten sentence email. Send them a 10,000-word document and they'll
likely scan the highlights, save it for later and you risk it not
being read fully. People appreciate brevity. Remember, if your objective
is to tell the reader what time it is, you don't need to explain how
to build a clock!
sending, ALWAYS reread your message and double check for grammar and
It's obvious to most of us to use spell check after we've composed
our message. You should also make it standard procedure to reread
your entire message before sending. Often times, you'll notice words
which have been left out, grammar that's incorrect and worst of all
witch our spilled write butt knot used inn the write weigh.
(Note, that this last sentence runs through a spell checker perfectly.)
How many times have you caught something too late, making your only
option to curse at your spell-checking software!
back salient points when replying to an earlier message.
Most people receive hundreds of emails every week. When you combine
that with face-to-face meetings and phone calls, it's dangerous to
assume your recipient will remember your earlier exchange. Which of
these messages has the greater chance for reader confusion?
sounds fine... Please proceed."
Hi Jody, Are you okay with the proposed color scheme on the new brochure?
I'd like to print it next week.
sounds fine... Please proceed."
frustrating when someone sends you an email, with a specific answer
but you're unable to recall the original issue. This problem is largely
avoidable by copying a portion of the original message alluding to
specific subject line descriptions.
Since many email messages go back and forth several times over the
course of many weeks, it's important to accurately describe what the
reader will find inside.
the level of spam and anti-spam software in place today, you can't
afford to risk your message not being delivered because of a generic
or poorly worded subject line. A subject line such as, "What
do you think" doesn't tell the recipient much. "Need your
suggestions for options re: acct#45619 - Robinson Inc." is more
specific. Remember, a legitimate message coming from your plant in
Hong Kong advising you that "they've still had no luck increasing
the prototype by 3 inches" is unlikely to ever make it past today's
that once your message is sent, THERE'S NO GETTING IT BACK!
Email communication in the workplace has been around about ten years.
Before the 90s, if you composed a letter later deemed too harsh or
in poor taste, there were more steps involved before the message was
sent. Today, the stakes are much higher. People can literally ruin
their career with a single 60-second lapse in judgment, by sending
the wrong message to someone. (See animated video clip in inset box
is also ridiculously easy to edit and forward. Keep in mind that sending
a message to one person can eventually be viewed by many other unintended
parties. Always double-check the recipient line before sending any
email. Horror stories about messages accidentally copied to "ALL"
are becoming routine.
a rule, it's a good idea to never put anything in writing that a reasonable
person would consider to be confidential or dangerous. If your situation
dictates you email such information, try to word your message in as
factual and balanced a way as possible. As you write, imagine that
the person you're writing about eventually sees your message. Stick
to facts, not opinions.
the 24-hour rule when you're upset.
It's never a good idea to send an email when you're angry. We've all
been guilty of this. In the heat of the moment we type up a literary
bombast. A message that will reduce the recipient to mush. We even
reread it, and we're actually sort of proud at how powerful the wording
is. We imagine the recipient opening and cringing as he/she reads
our words. Then we send it.
later, after we calm down, we revisit the message and realize that
we dramatically overreacted. But it's too late to do anything now,
except apologize and try to mend fences. This is more common than
you compose an email in anger, wait a predetermined period of time
before sending it. If your emotions are legit, then your issue will
still be there tomorrow. But in 95% of the cases, you'll be glad you
waited and toned things down after you've gain the perspective that
can only come with some additional time.
sh-cuts and abbr. in biz email msgs.
Anyone with a teenager knows you practically need a CIA decoder chart
to understand the abbreviations and shortcuts that are popular in
email, pagers, text messages and instant messages. These cutesy short
cuts and misspellings are ill advised to use in any corporate context,
no matter if your customer is external or internal. Even common shortcuts
like LOL (laughing out loud), BRB (be right back), 2 (to) and u r
(you are) are simply too casual for most business communication. What's
hip to one sender can be read as flip and disrespectful by another
reader. Since a casual message to a coworker could easily be forwarded,
it's best to practice the same high level of professionalism no matter
who you're writing to.
Forward Viral Messages.
What's that you say? You'd only forward important messages on to your
coworkers and friends? Not so fast.
obvious computer viruses that involve actual destructive code, many
messages are viral in nature, in that they are purposefully crafted
so you'll send them on to friends with the idea that you weren't positive
if this was real but wanted to be sure they saw it just in case! Although
not usually harmful, these emails prey on normally smart individuals
desire to inform others.
intelligent people who would never consider themselves gullible forward
on hoax messages about:
Congressional taxes on emails
waking up in a hotel bathtub of ice - minus your kidneys
steps for getting some of Bill Gates/Disney/AOL's money
to delete viruses from your pc (which are actually legit Windows'
files your system needs)
abductions at giant retailers
widow from Zimbabwe begging you to look after her $18,000,000
if you'll just give her your bank account number.
list goes on. If you are the recipient of an email message you think
is relevant to your friends and family, run it by this test: Copy
and paste a few words from the message into google.com along with
the word "hoax". If the returns come back showing articles
claiming the message is a fake, save everyone in your address book
some time by hitting the delete key! The same rule applies to jokes
and pictures which would be deemed as inappropriate by your employer.*
there may not be a silver bullet that saves us from an onslaught of
never ending messages, common sense practices can make our business
email correspondence more effective and productive every working day.
PS Unlike hoaxes and spam mentioned above, it's good etiquette to
forward this article to others in your address book who will find
it helpful! :- )
Doctor, Inc. Telephone Doctor is a twenty-year old training company
that has helped over 20,000 organizations improve the way they communicate
David Friedman is Vice President and General Manager of Telephone
Doctor. For information on America's favorite series of classroom
training tools or on-site workshops, call 314-291-1012 or visit the
website at www.telephonedoctor.com
Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor, is available to speak
at association conferences and corporate gatherings.