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Writing email that gets read

by on
in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Imagine you’ve just opened an email, and you see that it’s four lengthy paragraphs. Do you read it? Scan it? Close it quickly?

Leo Babauta, author of top blog “Zen Habits,” says that when he re­­ceives a long email, it’s almost always a case of the sender not taking the time to edit. It leaves the impression that the sender believes his time is more valuable than Babauta’s.

Guidelines for writing short, effective email:

1.  Limit your message to five sentences. The website five.sentenc.es first put forward this idea, in response to the continuous flow of email. Babauta says he’s used the strategy for years and it works.

2.  Figure out your main point. If you have to write several paragraphs, you probably haven’t determined what your main point is.

3.  Edit.

4.  Ask one thing at a time, or maybe two. Don’t ask many questions at once, because you’re less likely to get an answer.

5.  Include a link to information available online rather than reiterating it.  If the information you need to share isn’t online, post it there using a blog, wiki or another free tool.

— Adapted from “How to Get People to Read Your Emails,” Alexandra Levit’s Water Cooler Wisdom.

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