A Few Email Tips for Everyone

Ever-growing inboxes are a fact of life as email has become the most utilized communication strategy in the world. One one hand, we love it because it can be quick and efficient.  On the other, we hate as there are just so many that enter our professional and personal accounts.  Here are a few tips to make your emails more effective and, hopefully, decrease what hits your inbox. Read on for more!

Know Your Audience

If you want to make sure that your messages are read and that your communication is clearly received, then you need to pause and think about the person on the other side of that email.  What are their communication preferences?  How do you adjust to meet their style?  This quick reflection is a way to be a 360 degree leader because you adjust the message to the intended audience of that email.

For instance, I am a detail-oriented person who loves history, which means that longer narrative is a comfortable place for me.  Not everyone, however, has that same preference as they want the bigger picture with 3 to 5 succinct key facts.  If I composed a lengthy narrative to them, then my choice has increased the likelihood that my email is either not read or barely skimmed.  Simply put, know your intended audience and craft the message to increase its readability for them – not you!

Leverage the Subject Line

In your subject line, denote the purpose.  This strategy is a gift of clarity and kinds to the email’s recipient, and it is so simple to employ.  Normally, using all capital letters in email is taboo as the interpretation is the author is yelling; however, that can be softened slightly for the subject line.

If you are sending mere information about a product review to your team (or an individual), here is one possible way to draft the subject line  – FYI: Product Review.  A busy recipient can quickly read that subject summary and know that it can wait. Should there need to be a decision, then a quick modification of the subject could look like this – ACTION NEEDED:  Product Review.  If the item is more pressing, you can modify the subject say – URGENT: Poor Product Review. 

The key to this is not to abuse the subject line.  If you mark everything as urgent or action needed just to capture their attention, then you are manipulating them instead of communicating with them.  Simply, give your recipient a subject line clue about the level of importance of that email.

Include only who is Necessary

Before you hit send on an email, answer one, important question – who REALLY needs this email?  Far too often, an email is constructed and a whole litany of individuals are copied on it.  This decision clutters some recipient’s inboxes way too much and the problem gets significantly worse when someone on that thread makes the decision to “Reply All.”  

As a simple practice, only put in the “To” line those that need to read the email and could potentially need to respond.  If you have more than 5 individuals in that line, stop and ask one question: does each person really need this email?  Reserve the “CC” line only for those that – here’s the phrase again – “really need” the awareness of the matter.  The key words are “really need” – think about it from their perspective and not yours.  

Finally, if you are on an email – in either the “To” or “CC” lines – and you need to reply, do not use reply all.  You have the responsibility to think through who really should get the reply and keep it to that group alone.  

Stop at Three

This suggested strategy means that you revert back to an “old school idea.”  If you and the recipient have gone back and forth across 3 emails, then it is time to stop using this quick communication tool.  Instead, send a calendar invite to discuss in person (e.g., phone call, face to face meeting, or using a web meeting tool). 

For whatever reason, the words on a screen have not conveyed their meaning or have been misunderstood; so a conversation is the best way forward.  By taking that time to stop and discuss, you are actually saving time and diminishing personal frustration that can arise.  Yes, that means you add a meeting to your calendar; however, it shows that you honor the relationship with the other person more.  Simply put, at the point of three emails to explain something, schedule a meeting to improve connection and communication.  

What email strategies do you use to improve your communication?  Send them to us – stridepdcenter@k12.com – and we may highlight your idea on our social media accounts.

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