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Writing Emails People Will Respond To (replay)

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slepping-emailHow many emails do you receive in a day? How many do you open? How many lead you to do something?

Like pointless PowerPoints, endless emails are time wasters and and a burden. Just as I spent years creating ineffective PowerPoint presentations before learning how to do better; I am working this fall to improve my emailing skills for my benefit and for my clients.

And so should you.

I write 10-20 emails per day. Since leaving HP/Agilent, I communicate more via email than through any other medium. Whether proposing a service to a potential client, asking for permission to proceed, or explaining what went wrong, emailing is a critical skill that I need to keep working on.

Geoffrey James gives six helpful tips for "How to Write a Convincing Email" in a recent Inc. magazine article.  Of his six tips, I am working on two of them this month.


Step 2. Start by writing your conclusion.

Per James - "Nobody in the business world has time to wander through the development of an idea. If you don't tell them the reason for the e-mail immediately, chances are they'll just move on.

So you start with your conclusion. For example, suppose your goal is get your boss to approve an in-house gym.

I want you to approve the installation of an in-house gym."


In my Advanced Presentations class, I give the same advice when presenting to C-Level executives. "First Line - Bottom Line. You have 30 seconds to get to the point." We live in an info-overload society and people don't make time to read lengthy messages.


While you can afford a sentence of greeting, get to the point quickly. I used to be terrible at hiding the main point of the message at the bottom.  In today's short attention-spam, mobile app world, no one has time to read umpteen paragraphs while you build your case.


Step 6. Stick a benefit in the subject line.

How often do we reply to the reply to the reply, when the email topic has shifted and is not related to the subject?  Your subject line should introduce the topic of the message and lead your reader to open the message.  It also helps when trying to find that particular email from three days ago.

Per James -
"Ideally, a subject line should accomplish two important tasks: 1) interest the recipient enough so that the e-mail gets opened and read, and 2) imply the conclusion that you want to the recipient to accept.

In most cases, the best way to accomplish both tasks is to encapsulate a benefit (or benefits) that will result from the decision that you'd like the recipient to make.


Subject: The Health Impact of In-House Employee Fitness Programs


Subject: How we can reduce absenteeism"


What are you doing to stand out from the crowd and get action via email?


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Scott is co-owner of Wave's End Services, LLC, a Colorado-based provider of Web, IT Consulting, photography, video, and training services.