7 Tips for Writing smArter Emails

Ever wished you were better at writing emails you want a response to? Here are a few handy tips:

  1. Get to the point. No one likes reading rambling emails. Respect my time and my attention span by staying on-topic. Keep it short because I’m not interested in reading a novel.
  2. HAVE a point. When I’m done reading an email, I want to have a clear Next Action. If you don’t give me one, you shouldn’t rely on me to come up with one. The best way to do this in my experience is to ask a direct question. If you don’t have a question, I’ll probably look at the email and think “Hmm. Okay. Next.” But if you ask a question, I have something to do.
  3. Answer my question. If I’ve asked you a question, answer it early in the email and directly. Don’t make me dig to find it.
  4. Regulate your paragraphs. Keep your language simple and your paragraphs orderly. Too few paragraphs that are long result in a sea of text I won’t want to read. Too many paragraphs that are short turn into a broken-up jumble of text I won’t want to read. 3 to 5 lines per paragraph, and 2 to 4 paragraphs is reasonable. Separate your ideas in a meaningful way and if you change the subject, start a new paragraph for it.
  5. Have an active voice. Don’t say “I could do this” when you could say “I am doing this.” Speak to show you’re taking action and doing stuff instead of sounding passive. Using exclamation points conservatively can also liven up an email. Finally, a strategically placed smiley face to add personality. Have an active voice! 🙂
  6. Heed the rule of 3, 4, 5. If you’re itemizing something, or listing things, or organizing thoughts, try to keep them in threes, fours, or fives. People like these numbers and they’re easier to remember and understand than arbitrarily huge numbers that won’t fit in your head. 7 is a good number, too, but usually only for articles and not emails.
  7. Sign your name. This seems obvious but a lot of people don’t do this. Sign with your full name to help make it stick in my head. This is subtle, but important. Professionals sign their name. 🙂

Does anyone else have any useful emailing tips?

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