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Use Email More Effectively!

It’s not surprising to learn that almost 2.7 million emails are sent per second (according to Internet Live Stats). Computer software giant Adobe tells us that people spend almost 5.5 hours a day checking email! Email is the most utilized form of communication in the workplace. Even with the advent of new workplace communication tools, such as Slack, Jabber, and Teams, email still is the way we communicate at work. And most of us know—email could be used much more effectively! Here are some of our best tips to make your emails stand out and get the response you’re looking for.

1. Get to the point!

The average reader decides what they will do with an email in just 5-10 seconds. What your reader wants to know right away is the answer to these three questions:

  • Why did I get this message?
  • What do I need to do with it?
  • How urgent is it?

To get to the point, PAD your subject line and opening paragraph. PAD stands for purpose, action, and deadline. In both your subject line and opening paragraph, include the:

  • Purpose—tell your reader why they received the message
  • Action—tell your reader what they need to do as a result of the email (or, if you’re just sending the message as an FYI, tell the reader!)
  • Deadline—tell your reader when you need the action done

2. Respond to emails within 24 hours.

This is about your reputation. If you don’t reply to emails in a timely manner, people won’t feel a need to reply to you. You can get a reputation for being careless and disengaged when you don’t respond in a timely manner. General etiquette is that you reply within 24 hours, even if it’s just to say you got the message and will respond later in more detail.

3. Think before using carbon copy, blind carbon copy, and reply all.

Who is required to see your message? Don’t be known for filling your co-workers’ inboxes with meaningless emails.

4. Manage your emotions.

Beware of responding to an email when you’re angry. Instead, write the email, save it in your drafts folder, and come back to it later. Take the time to consider the other person’s perspective. If you’re not sure about the other person’s intent, pick up the phone!

5. Consider your writing and formatting.

We all know to avoid or limit using all caps, text message abbreviations, and emoticons. Don’t overuse exclamation points, either. Some other basic writing and formatting tips:

  • Avoid using humor in email—it just doesn’t translate well.
  • Start your emails with a professional greeting.
  • Keep your email formatting simple. Avoid overly decorative fonts and colors.

6. Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Take time to review your email before you send it. Always use spell check but remember that spell check doesn’t catch everything! Try reading your email out loud or read from the bottom to the top—both strategies often reveal something we’ve missed. When in doubt, have someone else read the email, especially if you’re not sure how the tone is coming across.

When we adopt these tips, our email messages are much more impactful. We’re more efficient, productive, and organized—and isn’t that the purpose of email in the first place?

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