I realise in some ways emails seem a bit basic, or even hum drum. We receive tens if not hundreds daily.
And, if we are honest, we read them quite selectively. How many unopened emails are lurking in the bottom of your inbox?
So, if we are selective … so are the people who receive emails from us.
How do we make sure our audiences read and reply with what we need from them quickly? Here are three ideas to help:
#1 – Say something useful. Basic, I know, but often not so.
#2 – Use simple visual formatting so your message is easy to find
#2 – Insert tables, screenshots and other images with care.
Let me unpack each of those for you.
Say something useful. How many emails are never opened and not missed?
To be useful, think super carefully about your purpose and make sure you are adding value to your recipients before you hit send. In particular,
- Think twice if your purpose is ‘so they know what is going on'. Ask yourself WHY they need to know what is going on? What will they do with that information? Do they really need to know?
- Minimise the number of people you CC. If your recipients receive loads of emails from you, important ones won't stand out.
Use simple visual formatting so your message is easy to find. I am shocked at how often I brace myself to read emails that appear in my inbox. Here are three tips to reduce this shock for your recipients:
- Include plenty of white space. You will note that in this and other emails from me, I allow white space before and after sections and in particular around my (usually bolded) main message.
- Avoid underline. It clutters the page and makes the words hard to read, even though it does draw your eye to the line itself (but not to the word).
- Only highlight the key message unless your email is long. If long, highlight the top line supporting points as I have done here.
Insert tables, screenshots and other images with care. A great example of this came across my desk this week, which in part stimulated this post.
My client offered about six screenshots along with five lines of text to explain her problem. However, she inserted the text in between the screenshots, which rendered them invisible.
To avoid that happening to you, I suggest keeping tables, screenshots and other images to the end of your email.
The only exception is where there is just one visual followed by a big block of text. If you add just a few words after an image they will be lost.
I hope that helps and look forward to providing more ideas next week.
PRESENTED BY DAVINA STANLEY
I love what I do.
I help senior leaders and their teams prepare high-quality papers and presentations in a fraction of the time.
This involves 'nailing' the message that will quickly engage decision makers in the required outcome.
I leverage 25+ years' experience including
- learning structured thinking techniques at McKinsey in Hong Kong in the mid 1990s before coaching and training their teams globally as a freelancer for a further 15 years
- being approved to teach the Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto in 2009
- helping CEOs, C-suite leaders and their reports deeply understand their stakeholder needs and communicate accordingly
- seeing leaders cut the number of times they review major papers by ~30% and teams cut the amount of time they take to prepare major papers by ~20%*
- watching senior meetings focus on substantive discussions and better decisions rather than trying to clarify the issue
My approach helps anyone who needs to engage senior leaders and Boards.
Recent clients include 7Eleven, KPMG, Mercer, Meta, Woolworths.
Learn more at www.clarityfirstprogram.com
(*) Numbers are based on 2023 client benchmarking results.