Presentation on theme: "Sending Effective E-mail Messages April 23, 2012 The problem with e-mail is that people think it’s electronic mail. – E-mail is NOT postal mail in electronic."— Presentation transcript:
Sending Effective E-mail Messages April 23, 2012 The problem with e-mail is that people think it’s electronic mail. – E-mail is NOT postal mail in electronic form. You are not writing a letter. E-mail a unique medium and communication device. E-mail is good for conveying information and soliciting a fairly short response, answer to a question, etc. It tends to be less effective for long descriptions (e.g., of your research) and wide-open discussions (e.g., searching for consensus) Source: http://matt.might.net/articles/how-to-email/. I want to thank my SDSC colleague Chic Barna for sharing this with me several months ago.http://matt.might.net/articles/how-to-email/
Basic E-mail Guidelines Format your message into bullet points. – Bullets are easier to scan (esp. electronically) than whole paragraphs. Keep your message short. – Put critical information in the top 5 lines. – Try to crystallize your message into 3 key points. Place action items that recipients need to respond to at the top. Sort points by priority (highest-priority items come first). Be polite and respectful. Remember: You are trying to motivate them to do something, so try not to annoy them with too much text. – Peter Taylor anecdote about closing with “Best regards.”
Subject Line The subject should be informative with key elements of your message, ~72 characters or less. If entire e-mail fits in the subject line, put it there and hit SEND. -It takes a click out of processing and increases the chance of a response. If the topic doesn’t fit in the subject line, include the most critical details (event topic, date, time) -Don’t send “Save the Date” as a subject. Recipients will wonder “for what?” Instead send “Event title, Save the Date: Date.” The subject line must provide enough information so the recipient knows how to prioritize and whether/how to act on your message.
Use Points, Not Paragraphs Note the difference between speech, written material (papers), and e-mail messages – they use different formats to be effective. Put blank line between points and paragraphs. – White space makes the information more approachable (readable) and less threatening. – White space makes the text easier to read. – NO ONE wants to read large blocks of text!
Example: Don’t Send This Type of Message “I had some ideas about using X to do Y. Is that possible? It doesn’t seem possible to do X without doing W. I also thought we might be able to do A. I saw a paper on B. Did you read it? I really like Q because of R, S, and T…”
Instead, Make Your Logic More Clear with This Approach… I had some ideas about using X to do Y. Is that possible? It doesn’t seem possible to do X without doing W. I also thought we might be able to do A. Because… I saw a paper on B (give cite). Did you read it? I really like Q because R S T
Tips on Discussions If you want to have a discussion, put it later in the message. Reply to discussion points by embedding your replies in context (relevant text) with a different color font (so they can be scanned quickly) rather than responding in a single block of text to all points.
Example: Using the Previous Example, Try This Structure > I had some ideas about using X to do Y. Is that possible? No, but you can use U and V instead. > It doesn’t seem possible to do X without doing W. That’s right. > I also thought we might be able to do A. Agreed.
Replying Reply on top if your reply is a single point. Reply below if it’s part of a discussion chain. – You want the readers to be able to follow the logic of the discussion. – Replying below, though often better form, is rarely used. Respond to part of a message by deleting the irrelevant parts before replying.
One Topic Per Message If you’re e-mailing one person on multiple topics, split the e-mail apart into individual, one-topic messages and use subject line accordingly. This enables the recipient to respond more quickly and provide response in the exact context.
Manners Add “please” and “thank you” where appropriate. “Thanks!” (casual) is appropriate with someone you know (esp. a peer). A more formal closing line is appropriate for a professor, dean, potential boss, and others you don’t know. Examples: – Thank you very much for your time. – I appreciate your taking the time to respond. – Sincerely. “Best regards” can work nearly anytime.
Final Considerations Use – Good grammar – Correct spelling Avoid “texting” (elliptic) language
E-Mail: How Do You Use It? What Problems Have You Had? Composing – getting your points across succinctly? Reading/understanding others’ e-mails?
Next Session Common writing mistakes Class edit of the sample document I sent you Friday – About a graduate program at Johns Hopkins University to teach students to become entrepreneurs