By Rebecca Klein Scott and Keith Scott
You have a few moments to play email catch up before dashing into your next meeting. If you have to keep scrolling to search for the point of a message, chances are your attention will get hijacked and you’ll move to the next email.
Then there are those emails with vague subject lines that you intend to open later but instead disappear into inbox never-never-land.
How about the emails you compose? Only a few words make the difference between your email becoming a time saver or time waster. Read on for easy to implement tips for your business.
Subject Lines that Shine:
Don’t cast away subject lines as bit parts when it comes to producing your email. Your subject line determines if your email gets opened.
A vague subject line can quickly become the culprit of emails going unanswered. Let’s say you need your recipient to sign off on a financial document. Swap out a throwaway subject line such as “Update” for “Action: Signature Needed by Friday.” Make sure your subject line is relevant, specific and action oriented.
The next time you need to set up a meeting date, minimize back-and-forth by including two date options in the subject line such as “Meeting Request: 10/3 or 10/4 at 10 am” Then, add a line or two in the body of the email with the proposed location and details. It is easier to give someone a few dates to check and a location than leaving them to come up with dates on their own and waiting until another round of emails to pick the location.
You’ve enticed your recipient to click on your message. Now, you want them to stay long enough to read and respond.
If your email has long paragraphs, it will likely get closed back up, especially when it resembles a Kindle book on a phone, minus the juicy plot.
Go easy on the eyes with bullet points. If you have more than three items that need answers, avoid the chance that someone will only answer the first two questions by specifying how many questions you need answered and numbering each line item.
Clearing away the Clutter:
No one likes a crab cake with a lot of filler. The same goes for wording. Proofread your messages for perpetrators that make the meat of your message disappear.
- Couched Language: “I think,” “I feel,” “I believe,” “Just a thought” and the double whammy “I just was thinking” downplay your messaging. They make the writer appear unsure and insecure. Imagine a surgeon telling you “I was just thinking that this surgery will work.”
- Commitment Phobes: Words such as “should,” “would,” “could,” and “maybe” also create a perception that you lack confidence and induce doubt.
Picture your message as a Super Bowl commercial with big dollars spent for every word. Delete any words and phrases that you wouldn’t pay to include.
Know When to Go Offline:
If your message gets batted back and forth three times without a resolution or if you need to have what could turn into a difficult or heated conversation, pick up the phone or plan an in-person meeting.
There are times when the best email etiquette is to take the conversation offline, reach a solution and then send a short summary of the agreement made to cover your tracks.
About the Authors:
Keith Scott & Rebecca Klein Scott
TALLsmall Productions leads communications training and team building workshops for large corporations, small businesses, individuals and everything in between, on public speaking, communicating with clarity, the art of negotiation and body language. This duo launched in 2014 and frequently make TV appearances, weighing in on the impact of communication in politics, news and daily life. They give back to the community by emceeing fundraising galas and leading pro-bono workshops. And, yes, the company name is a nod to their heights — Keith is 6’9” and Rebecca is 5’2″.
Have email etiquette and strategy questions? Drop us a line at keithandrebecca@TALLsmallProductions.org.