Staring at computer screen

Crafting a Highly Readable Email

Originally, I wanted to title this: How to Write Emails that Fight the General Tendency Toward Obfuscation and other Narcissistic Traits of Subpar Communication.

Intentionally over the top, the original title was intended to highlight some of the common mistakes that you may send or see in emails. Before delving into the root causes of bad email–obfuscation and other narcissistic tendencies–I wanted to give a nod to 12 Hackneyed Phrases to Delete From Your Emails appearing in Inc. They review specific phrases to avoid, and I’m sad to admit I saw a few I commonly use.

  1. Avoid Obfuscation – Write Simply and Clearly

According to iContact, the average email is open for 15-20 seconds, a newsletter maybe 51. That means no more than 50 words are typically read.  Therefore if your email is 20 words, it is read entirely.  A 50 word email could be read entirely.  A full page email may be skimmed 1 out of every 5 words.

Focus on the goal of the email.  Does the email describe what you would like the other person to do?  Is it short enough that the person cannot miss the point if they tried?  If not, how can you expect them to respond properly?

  1. Resist Narcissistic Tendencies – Where to Cut the Fat

Unless you know the person well or discussed a specific item with them, the reader doesn’t care if you: hope they are doing well, having a good day, just checking in, or any one of a million platitudes or movie trailer starts that clutter the 145 billion emails sent daily.  From a reader’s perspective it isn’t friendly; it’s insincere.

Start your email faster.  What the person cares about is: What is this email about? Does it directly affect me? What do I need to do?

The same is true for your last line.  “Cheers” makes you sound British. “Best” what? “Regards” have you ever said that out loud? “Sincerely” is that part of your daily vocabulary?  And were you insincere before?

In sum, write short emails that sound like normal speech.  Leave out phrases that are unnecessary, along with any business buzz words.  Start approaching emails with these things in mind, and you greatly increase the likelihood of receiving a response.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]