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Posts Tagged ‘shorter email’

Don’t Over Communicate – Less Is More

I wrote a repair person, who worked in my house, a two-page, single spaced list of all the things that needed addressing. Then I followed up with seven text messages. I don’t want people to have to guess what they have to do. I want to be thorough. It feels like the right and helpful thing to do.

The problem? The repair person didn’t read my list. It was too long. I would have been better off saving my time and saying nothing if he wasn’t going to read the list anyway.

When people send me an email with five paragraphs, my eyes glaze over. I close the email promising to read it later, but don’t until the sender asks if I received their email. People are busy and have to choose where to invest time. When it comes to communication, often, less is more. The question is, how to be succinct and still be thorough? How do you make sure people know what’s expected without providing so much information that nothing gets read?

I’m going to admit, I struggle with this.

I’ve decided to create some communication rules for myself. I’m hoping they’ll be helpful to you as well.

  1. Draft communications and save them as a draft. Read them again a few minutes later and ask, “Can I say this in half as many words? Is all of this information necessary?”
  2. Think communications through rather than communicating impulsively. I’m someone who operates with a high sense of urgency. I suspect my sense of urgency has helped me to be successful personally and professionally, but it also has me send messages before I’ve thought everything through, which leads to seven text messages, rather than one.
  3. Limit yourself to one or two messages. When you know you can send only one email or text message, you’ll likely be more thoughtful about the communications.
  4. Draft succinct instructions and then ask the person what they’re planning to do. This is a delegation technique. Require the person to whom you’ve delegated to tell you what they know or don’t know. Then you know how to help.

I suspect that providing the right amount of detail will be something I’ll struggle with forever. The key take aways are this:

People often don’t read long communications. If you can say it in fewer words, do so. Shorter is better. Be complete, but don’t go overboard. Make sure things are said only one time. If you’re not sure someone read or understood what you said or wrote, ask them what they heard or read. Don’t ask, “Do you have any questions?” Or “Does that make sense?” Both are waste-of-time, non-questions.

When in doubt, less is more.


Writing Effective Emails for Better Business Communication

When I get an email that has multiple paragraphs I look at it, decide I don’t have time to read it, and close it out, promising to go back to it later when I have more time, which never happens.

Here are a few tips for writing effective emails that are more likely to be read:

  1. Put a specific subject in the subject line that says what the email is about.
    1. This does not include your name. We already know your name.
    2. Ex.:  “Meeting” (that’s not specific). Instead try:  “Meeting to agree upon February goals.”
  2. Highlight and bold important parts of the email
    1. Limit this practice so what’s bolded and highlighted stands out.
    2. If everything is bold, nothing stands out.
  3. Use bullets
  4. Use the fewest number of words possible
  5. Use links that send readers to relevant information
  6. Offer additional information, if desired

The shorter your emails are, the more likely they are to get read. You can always offer additional information, but readers won’t get to the detail if they never read the email.  When it comes to writing effective emails, shorter is better.


Send Short Emails and Get Your Communications Read

People are drowning in data, more specifically in email. If you want people to read your communications, send short emails and fewer of them.

How often do you open an email, see its daunting length, close the email promising you’ll get back to it later, but don’t? Then you bump into the sender a week later and he asks, in an annoyed tone, “Did you get my email?” And you attempt to conjure up the email, distinguishing it from the 1,500 emails you’ve received since.

Some people like receiving lots of information, others don’t. Ask your internal and external customers how much information they want to receive, in what format, how frequently, and with how much detail. And when you can, accommodate their preferences.

I’m a big picture person. For me, more information is not necessarily better. I’ll read five bullets. I won’t read five paragraphs. I’m frequently guilty of opening a long email, becoming overwhelmed, deciding I don’t have time to read the entire message, promising to read it later, and by the time I go back to the message, I’ve typically missed a deadline.

You can say it’s my problem that I don’t read long emails, not the sender’s problem. And you’d be right. I should read every email I get in full. But when I don’t give the sender something she needs because I was overwhelmed by the length of her email, it becomes her problem, too. If you want people to respond and do what you’re asking, communicate how they like to communicate whenever possible.

I’d like to say that people are so used to reading short text messages and Facebook and Twitter updates that they’ve been trained not to read anything longer than a few sentences. And there may be something to that. But the truth is, there are detail people who like a lot of data and there are big picture people who don’t. If you provide a high level summary – just what recipients need to know – followed by more details or information on where more details can be found, you accommodate both the detail and the big picture people.

When you write your next email or any other type of communication, consider: Could this be said with fewer words? Do the recipients want or need this level of detail? Then, shorten your communications and accommodate both the big picture and the detail people. And you’ll be amazed at how quickly you receive the things you’re asking for.

And if that’s not working, go old school and use our greeting cards to write a note, because no one can resist a handwritten note.


Send Short Emails and Get Your Communications Read

Send Shorter EmailsPeople are drowning in data, more specifically in email. If you want people to read your communications, send short emails and fewer of them.

How often do you open an email, see its daunting length, close the email promising you’ll get back to it later, but don’t. Then you bump into the sender a week later and he asks, in an annoyed tone, “Did you get my email?” And you attempt to conjure up the email, distinguishing it from the 1500 you’ve received since.

Some people like receiving lots of information, others don’t. Ask your internal and external customers how much information they want to receive, in what format, how frequently, and with how much detail. And when you can, accommodate their preferences.

I’m a big picture person. For me, more information is not necessarily better. I’ll read five bullets. I won’t read five paragraphs. I’m frequently guilty of opening a long email, becoming overwhelmed, deciding I don’t have time to read  the entire message, promising to read it later, and by the time I go back to the message, I’ve typically missed a deadline.

You can say it’s my problem that I don’t read long emails, not the sender’s problem. And you’d be right. I should read every email I get in full. But when I don’t give the sender something she needs, because I was overwhelmed by the length of her email, it becomes her problem too. If you want people to respond and do what you’re asking, communicate how they like to communicate, whenever possible.

I’d like to say that people are so used to reading short text messages and Facebook and Twitter updates that they’ve been trained not to read anything longer than a few sentences.  And there may be something to that. But the truth, is there are detail people who like a lot of data and there are big picture people who don’t. If you provide a high level summary – just what recipients need to know – followed by more details or information on where more details can be found, you accommodate both the detail and the big picture people.

When you write your next email or any other type of communication, consider, could this be said with fewer words? Do the recipients want or need this level of detail? Then, shorten your communications and accommodate both the big picture and the detail people. And you’ll be amazed at how quickly you receive the things you’re asking for.

And if that’s not working, go old school and use our greeting cards to write a note, because no one can resist and handwritten note.

Greeting Cards for Work


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