There are a lot of posts and discussions around on what gets classified as a good email and what doesn’t. Well i don’t really recall any of that. But over the last 10 years i have learned a few things about writing a email the ‘correct’ way.
Here are a few of those things that i try and make sure goes into each email that i write.
KISS. (don’t know KISS, look it up)
Just by typing an email in English is not enough. The mail should convey the message the first time a person reads it. Just by vomiting some ‘cool’ terms into the mail doesn’t make it any better. If the recipient has to read the mail thrice and more to understand, it is the problem of the sender. What’s wrong in sending an easy to understand email? No one will look down up on you like you committed blasphemy. Email is a means of communication so keep it simple.
The other day, i was assigned some new work and i had to mail the concerned person about the finer details and tasks. The mail that i received proved to be tougher than the work that was assigned. Read the mail twice in the morning, took a coffee break, read it again twice and by noon it started to make sense. That was half a day’s of productive time spent reading one single mail.
Here’s the rule i follow – If you can’t really explain something in simple terms, then you have no idea what you’re trying to do and have no real understanding about it. Period!
If it is more than two pages long, schedule a meeting.
This follows from the previous point. Even after you have made the mail simple and easy to understand, if it runs for more than two pages, then it is better to schedule a meeting with specific agenda. No matter how simple the mail might be, the recipient would be far away from the message by the time they reach the bottom of the mail. Now they have to start all over again. Then there will be follow up queries and clarifications and the cycle will go on.
Wouldn’t it be simpler to mail someone with the highlights and then schedule an informal meeting instead. A 10 minute meeting, even over the phone, is better than 2 days of emails flying around. Well, if it is something that has been documented, send them the link for god sake! No one cares about your explanation.
If you have to spent more than 10 minutes on an email, you’re definitely doing it wrong.
Even after following the last 2 steps, if you are still going to spend more than 10 minutes to compose an email, then obviously you’re doing it wrong. But, how the hell can you get it wrong? After all it is just an email.
If you can’t narrow down on what you want to communicate, then obviously you are going to have a lot of information (in simple sentences) and would end up confusing yourself. Here’s the thing, apart from mailing someone who is important (like your boss or CEO), if you find yourself asking, “does this mail serve the purpose?” or “is this correct?” then chances are that you have got it wrong somewhere.
So the next time you have to send an email to someone, just think for a moment what you want to convey and concentrate on that single message.
U shud not do tis.
It’s not like we are charged per character for an email. The situation is not even such that and extra character or two is going to choke the network. So please stop using all the lingo you picked up by posing as a girl in a public chat room. I can understand using this while text-ing someone. But even that is lame after some time.
There are some acceptable acronyms that you can use in an email. Like the name of the a product, user pointers like F.Y.I., descriptors like FUBAR etc. But a like that goes, ‘I thot v shud meet 4 cofe’, is simply lame. Even the argument that you were in a hurry doesn’t sell here. How hard was it to lift the damn finger and punch in two more letters?
Feel free to share your thoughts and experience.