One of the biggest challenges in sending emails is ensuring that other people understand what it is you’re trying to say and what you want them to do. Have a look at the numerous emails that are overloading your inbox right now and you will see that few of them clearly identify the action the sender would like you to take.
This is because most people just blindly type a message without thinking much about it and then click ‘send’. Given we are overloaded with emails already, finding a way to reduce them is always a bonus. Here are five hacks you can use to ensure others understand your emails and can take action quickly.
Hack One: Tailor Your Subject Line
When people receive emails into their inbox they do not just read them — they scan most of their emails then select which ones to respond to. Make your subject line relevant and clear. Avoid vague subject lines that people will not understand. You can provide a simple overview of the message as well as the importance or timeframe that you need them to respond.
Hack Two: Use Correct Message Length
Who hasn’t received an email that is as long as a novel? When these messages come in many people put off reading them because it the email looks long and cumbersome — which means that will often delay in responding to it. If you want your email to be read and responded to quickly you need to keep them brief and to the point. This is even more important given research shows over half of the people out there are receiving emails on their smartphone — and reading them on a small screen.
Hack Three: Use Visual Texture and Impact
Another issue with emails is that visually, on the screen of a computer or smartphone, they look bland and plain. When people receive hundreds of emails per day this makes all of them look the same. Blocks of text without any formatting can be difficult to read. To make your email message stand out and have more impact, alter the visual texture. For example, if you have a number of points to make, use bullets to visually shift the text on the screen. In addition, make any headers bold so the receiver can immediately identify them.
Hack Four: Clarify Specific Outcomes
Emails are usually sent for a particular reason. The trick is to identify your desired outcome within your email so that recipients can easily come up with a relevant response — or take the correct action. Most emails are written with one of the following outcomes in mind:
- FYI — for your information is when you want them to be aware of something that may or may not be directly in their area of responsibility, however, it is beneficial for them to be across it;
- Gather Information — this outcome is when you want them to read through the email, think about what’s being shared and share or gather additional insights or details, often you may be looking for their thoughts or opinions on a particular issue;
- Decision — you want them to choose from a number of options and commit to a decision;
- Action — you want them to take specific action based on the message communicated in the email; and
- Meet — you’d like to meet to discuss a topic further (often because using email is not the most effective method of communication and being face to face can cover more ground).
To make it easier (and quicker) for people to respond, let them know the specific outcome you want them to take at the very beginning of the email, this will increase your response rates and the action you are hoping for.
Hack Five: Specify Timeframes
Another important and simple detail that’s important to include in an email is a timeframe. This allows the receiver to understand your expectation and will also help them prioritise their activity based on multiple tasks that they’re focusing on at the time in their world.
By hacking the emails that you send, you can save both yourself and others time — and hopefully, allow you to get others to take action faster.