Ineffective email wastes more time than anything else we read — or write. And it’s an easy problem to solve. Effective emails have a purposeful structure, just like any other document.
Here’s an infographic with ten tips for emails that get things done, based on Chapter 21 of my book Writing Without Bullshit.
- Choose a subject line that makes the topic clear and functions as a heading for subsequent conversation.
- Summarize the content in the first 20 words.
- Introduce yourself quickly if necessary (the microwave greeting).
- Include headings to make skimming easy.
- Refer to previously published material with links.
- Speak directly to the recipients — use “I” and “you.”
- Include a call to action.
- Use photos or charts to clarify.
- Include a deadline for responses.
- Don’t exceed 250 words.
Post this infographic near your computer as a reminder. Also available as a PDF: email-that-works