Sitting at your computer, you open that dreaded email from Susie Windbag. Blah… blah… blah! I can imagine that you have experienced this: skimming through a tortuously long email because the writer is going on and on instead of simply just getting right to the point. It’s like walking down a long corridor that never ends. It’s also a big waste of everyone’s time.
Don’t make the same mistake. No one has the time to read through your long drawn out explanation. And believe me, I am the king of drawing things out, so I have become pretty good at changing my ways. It has been challenging, but I have seen the payoff many times over.
So what’s the secret to creating successful email communications for busy people?
Just the Headlines, Please.
The best way to keep an email short and to-the-point is by NOT writing in paragraph form. Use a short leading paragraph stating the desired goal, followed by key bullet points. This helps everyone understand what is happening very quickly. Address individuals and use action items where necessary. Explain to each individual copied on the email why they are on the email even if it is just “FYI,” and what the timeline is for completion.
As a productive leader, you don’t always have the ability to hold a meeting with your team so it is best to provide precisely detailed requests of what you are looking for from each individual or group addressed in your email. This will help everyone with their initial reading of the communique and will also help them when they have to come back to it at a later date.
People will sincerly appreciate working with you when you communicate like this to them.
Client ABC would like to run a promotion on Widget XYZ using mail-in rebates for the end user. Our thought is to have Widget XYZ be ½ price after mail-in rebate.
–Please check with the factory and see if we can produce 10,000 units of Widget XYZ for a ship to arrive date of mid-March to Client ABC.
–Please confirm this my the close of business today and reply to all on this email.
–Once we have confirmation from Fulfillment of product availability, please work with Finance to be sure we can reach our margin requirements. Please provide results by the end of this week.
–We would like to incorporate this promotion into our new marketing initiative. Please call me at (555) 555-5555 to discuss any ideas you may have.
–Please work the numbers to see how much we can offer in terms of the rebate keeping in mind the goal is ½ off to the end-user after mail-in rebate. Again, please provide results by the end of this week.
–When you have this, please email Graphics and myself with the information.
–Please use the same rebate form as last year inserting Widget XYZ. The dates of the promotion will be January 1st – January 31st. Insert the rebate amount when you hear back from finance.
–Please send this over to Legal and myself when complete, we will need to review this by Wednesday of next week.
When you receive the file from Graphics, please review this to ensure it meets our corporate requirements and reply to Graphics and myself with any changes or approval by the end of next week.
This email is FYI.
Thank you all in advance for your help! I look forward to another successful promotional opportunity with Client ABC.
Processes run much smoother if you incorporate precise action plans detailed out with:
- Bullet points
- Actionable items
- Addressing each individual or team with specific action items and workflow
What are some ways you can improve upon your business processes to create a more productive work environment? How can you tighten your communications to be more effective? How can you set the example and provide “just the headlines” in both written and face-to-face communications? I’d love to hear your tricks of the trade!
Jason Christensen is National Accounts Manager for The Stanley Works.
He can be reached at email@example.com
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