Most work inboxes are terrifically bloated with emails. Half of the correspondence they safeguard never even get opened. Only the lucky emails get read, and generally, they only qualify for a quick glance. Their writers spend painstaking minutes attempting to frame their contents perfectly, dancing around the subject, and dressing up their prose all in an attempt to beg the recipient’s attention. But let’s face it, emails are an arduous business, and a quick skim is about all for which they can pray.
What is to be done? How are you to convey your necessary information? You have two options. You can shape up the way you write your emails or select another form of communication from the arsenal. Let us explore both options.
Option number one, reshape the way you write emails.
We have already accepted that emails compel only a skim from most readers, and this is the assumption from which you must operate when crafting your next memo. Here are some tips to help get your message across.
- Get to the point. Your polite prologue garners little respect in the eye of your audience. Dispense with the pleasantries: cut greetings (besides the customary Dear Ms. Blank) and spare your readers your well wishes. They will thank you for it with the gift of their concentration.
- Utilize embellishments. This is an old yet under-appreciated and often mishandled trick. Like any good essay, your email should have a main point: a thesis. This thesis should be stated in the subject line to avoid misleading your readers and highlighted, bolded, italicized, or underlined in your email. The main point should be clearly distinguishable from your extraneous eccentricities or explanations.
- Help them eat the elephant. You eat an elephant one bite at a time, so make your elephant (your email) bite-sized. Crafting an edible email means short sentences and short paragraphs. Each sentence and each paragraph should mirror the intent of the whole: to get to the point. These sweet scraps of vital data are much more appealing to the hungry eye than sumptuous soliloquies.
Option number two, choose a new form of communication.
You may find upon close inspection that you need not send your carefully crafted email at all. There may be a more efficient way to communicate with colleagues. There are, in fact, four different types of communication available to you at work:
- Body language (obviously a limited method unless both you and your communications are skilled in sign language)
- Text (yes, this can include actually texting each other, but it also extends to our beloved email as well as the archaic letter)
- Verbal, in-person communication (a limited commodity amid a guaranteed society)
- Phone conversation (a notoriously terrifying channel of communication for the millennial and Z generations).
Whichever form of communication you choose, attempt to actually choose instead of merely defaulting to email. And if email is chosen as the lucky method, give yourself and your recipient a break and write the bare minimum.
[For more information on the four communication methods and their merits read this article.]