Writing effective e-mails VII: Long project e-mails/Summary

Long project e-mails

Sometimes we have to write e-mails that cover a number of different issues, aimed at a number of different people. Remember that people are overwhelmed with the amount of e-mail they get: because of this — beyond a certain length — people don’t read e-mails properly. So, if you do have to send something long you need to use special tricks to make them at least read the most important sections. Read More …

Writing effective e-mails VI: Getting the basic elements right

The subject line

Don’t just use the subject line of an e-mail you’re replying to. Often, after e-mails have gone back and forth between people for a while, the subject matter changes. People only tangentially involved with the initial subject may have already started ignoring the conversation, and may therefore completely miss a message that is important to both your and their interests. This is less likely to happen if you update the subject line. Read More …

Writing effective e-mails V: Providing clear context

If you are writing to someone you do not correspond with regularly, you need to make sure to provide them with context right at the start. They may not know (or remember) who you are. Even if they recall your name, they may not be aware of the team, department, or company for which you are working. If you’ve corresponded a long while before, but you’re one of hundreds or thousands of people in their network, then they will likely not remember anything about your previous correspondence. Read More …

Writing effective e-mails I: Why are you writing?

In the world of work, e-mail messages are now formal documents. Based on an e-mail, a contract may be won or lost (or its terms altered), a team may be strengthened or shattered, a project may be furthered or set back. Nevertheless most people (not just students) don’t take e-mail seriously enough. We often ask colleagues to do things, report on our progress, and make requests for information by e-mail. If we fail to do this clearly, our colleagues will not do what we want, recognize our progress, or give us the information we need. Read More …