Anne Warfield

E-mail can be a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because at any point in time you can put your thoughts together and e-mail them to as many people as necessary with a minimum amount of effort. The curse is that so many people do it!

You can be inundated with e-mails that seem to do nothing more than cover someone else’s back. Because this is so prevalent, we know many people who don’t even bother to open their e-mail until they’ve received two or three on the same topic.

So here are a few techniques  and Presentation Skills Solutions to make sure your e-mails are opened, understood, and responded to:

  1. Make sure you use the subject line to tell the reader what you expect from them or what they can expect from your e-mail. Subject lines such as “November program,” or “case study customer,” or “Project Johnson,” have no meaning to the e-mail reader. It does not tell them what you expect of them, and it is not easy for them to quickly skim their e-mails to decide on its priority.
  2. Don’t brain dump in your e-mail. If your e-mail looks like one big long paragraph, I guarantee that you are brain dumping.
  3. Use lots of white space in your e-mail so it is easier for the reader to see your thoughts.
  4. Questions must be separated and put in individual lines so it is easy for the reader to see all the questions they need to answer. If you put questions embedded within a paragraph, they’ll be easily missed and you will end up playing e-mail tag with this person.
  5. Any time you reply to an e-mail, change the subject line to indicate what you are sending back to them or what you expect of them. This ends the cycle of e-mails in your inbox that have subject lines like: “Re: Re: Project Johnson.” You can see how having multiple e-mails with just “re:” in the front of the subject line will not help you when you need to retrieve one in a series of five e-mails. You may write an e-mail that goes to a person with the subject line saying, “What I need for the Johnson project by September 12.” They may e-mail you back with the subject line, “Re: what I need for the Johnson project—2 answers and one question for you.” You can see that when receiving this, you would know right away that you need to answer two questions and that they still need some information from you.

Don’t write an e-mail in order to get things off your chest. Instead, think about how the other person needs to use your information, what kind of time limitations they have, and that you respect them. For more solutions on how to Manage Your Message contact us at /