Written communication has never been more important, but many leaders don’t consider the weight of their words or the importance of the style of presentation in something so seemingly informal as an e-mail. Here are tips on effective e-mailing:
- Be considerate of your reader and keep your e-mails short and to the point. Your goal is to get your communication read, understood and acted on. Make your subject line not only relevant, but searchable. If you’re asking the recipient to do something, make your request specific—and name a deadline.
- Assume at your own peril that an e-mail sent is an e-mail received. (And not everyone is compulsive about answering e-mails immediately, so have some patience.)
- Know when an e-mail can’t do the job. Sometimes real-time dialogue is needed to get to an answer … e-mails can create roadblocks when you have to make assumptions on meaning.
- Don’t let your e-mails cop an attitude in tone that you wouldn’t dream of exhibiting in a conversation simply because the person isn’t standing in front of you. (And when you’re the recipient of a nasty gram, avoid a reply in kind. Wait an hour, re-read the e-mail and take the high road. A phone call is often the better solution.)
- Don’t hit “reply all” when someone is asking to confirm a meeting time with a large group—only the meeting planner needs that info! Make sure your signature line includes all your official contact information, properly formatted (and lose the fancy fonts).
- Finally, be aware that every e-mail can potentially be copied and forwarded. Sure it was funny, but did you really want your off-color joke circulated to the whole company?