Follow a simple formula
Emails can be confusing. Maybe it’s because we receive so many of them. Perhaps it’s because we are in a rush. It’s likely you have had several emails go back and forth to clarify something when one good, clear email would have done the trick.
Here are some guidelines to make your email message clear using The Pyramid Technique from the book Technically Write:
1 Start by telling people what they need to know
* The Keylime Project will be delayed by at least three days due to faulty equipment.
* I would like approval to attend the CPRS (Canadian Public Relation Association) National Conference on March 1, 2, and 3 in Edmonton as there are several sessions on media relations.
2 Provide the background details ~ whatever the reader needs to understand the situation or make a decision.
3 Wrap up with either the outcome of the situation or a call to action (a request for approval, to call someone, provide direction of what to do next, etc.)
4 Be sure your contact information is in your signature. Don’t make someone go looking for it. Include your full name, position, department, organization, phone number, and email address.
5 Reread and edit. Remove any unnecessary information. Keep your message to no more than 150 words. After that you need to start using attachments or arrange a time to talk by phone or in person.
6 Breathe. Don’t send your email if it sounds angry or cranky. You will hurt your relationship with your boss, client, colleague, or vendor, and that won’t help your relationship in the long run.
7 Proofread again, and press Send.
What can you improve this week to make your emails more clear and concise?
Catherine Doucette MEd, CTDP delivers customized business communications and leadership programs with measurable results. Topics include management issues, communication styles, difficult conversations, presentation skills, mentoring, productivity, managing conflict, business writing, and more.