Even now that e-mail has been around for several years, some of us still aren't "getting message" when it comes to being both effective and polite. While e-mail is a quick, easy, and informal way to exchange information, it still needs some TLC in order to do its job, which is to *communicate*!
One statistic says average American worker receives approximately 50 e-mails a day -- that's a lot of information to read through. And this number sounds low to me -- I get around 100 a day! Numbers like these mean that your little message is literally competing for your recipient's attention. You'd better make sure your e-mail tells her what you want her to know -- fast!
While I have a mile-long list of e-mail atrocities that I could share, here are four most common mistakes I see in my inbox every day. By paying attention to these simple points, you can easily ensure your messages come across clearly and professionally ... and that they actually get READ!
Mistake #1: "Dissing" Subject
Ever receive an e-mail with an empty subject line? That drives me nuts! It's simply a courtesy to tell your reader what info you're delivering. When receiving a list of new e-mails, we all use subject lines to quickly determine what each one is about and whether we need to open it right away.
The more info you give in subject line, better. For example, instead of just titling your e-mail "Meeting," give me details: "Marketing Meeting Set for Nov. 9." This way I know instantly that you're talking about Marketing Department, *and* that I have a meeting to go to on Nov. 9.
Also keep in mind that many e-mail systems cut-off long subject lines, so shoot for *six words or less.*
Mistake #2: Rambling On and On and On and...
Because we're all receiving way too much information every day, it's important to make your point FAST and CLEARLY. Have you ever gotten an e-mail that's so long you put off reading it, and later discovered it had some important information at end? An associate of mine used to do this -- she'd send a drawn-out missive about her enlightening trip to Bali, and at very end of her message she'd sneak in something urgent like, "Oh and client will be here today at 2 p.m. instead of 4." Yikes!
Fire your "biggest gun" first. If you have something important to tell me, or if you want me to take any sort of action, be sure to make your point in first few sentences. Otherwise I may not read it.
Try to keep your entire e-mail shorter than *two computer screens* -- one screen is best. For long, detailed messages, provide a brief list or summary at top, and break up copy below with subheads.