Email, whether you like it or not, is still the primary communication tool in companies, churches, non profits, and all organizations.
And the First big idea is this- making email work is your responsibility as the person sending the email. Everyone needs to own that. You are responsible to make email work for everyone receiving the email.
So here are 9 specific ways to make email work better for you, me and all of us receiving your emails.
1. Keep it brief. Emails should be simple and concise. Not complicated and continuous. Don't make me read a novel. Please!
2. Create a very clear subject line. In fact, if you can state the purpose of the email specifically in the subject line, do that. And/or if you can provide a quick response in the subject line, even better.
3. Change the subject line as the email changes. This is crucial. If the focus of that continued email string changes, then change the subject line along with it to reflect what is actually now contained in the email. Especially as emails change and get updated on a regular basis.
4. Whenever possible, keep each email to one subject and call to action per email. Don't use an email to multiple people as your to-do list, with all of your different tasks and lists and items included. One focus, one subject, and one call to action if at all possible.
5. Send the email to one person, and one person only.. Clear communication requires a clear sense of who is being communicated to. So make sure you're clear on who is receiving the email. It's fine if you include others who need to be in the loop, but be clear on who is receiving the email.
6. Bold names who have an action item or need to respond. With multiple people on an email, make it very clear who needs to do what by bolding names and calling out action and response.
7. Make next steps very clear. Callout key actions needed and next steps. Underline them, bold them, highlight them or whatever works to draw attention to what needs to happen next.
8. Put a deadline for action in the top of the email body. Always have a deadline for what is needed.
9. Remove people whenever possible from the proverbial email string. Always do your best to remove people from being cc'd or bcc'd or simply included. It clogs up people's inbox. You won't offend them, I promise!
And always remember- a face to face quick conversation, or a phone call or text, may be the better option. So always choose the best way to communicate even if that means it's more work for you. Again, it's your responsibility.
Email tends to cloud or hide emotion, so a quick 3 minute conversation can many times avoid multiple emails back and forth with feelings being hurt and people's time being wasted.