Designed by Martha Ormiston for the Noun Project

Designed by Martha Ormiston for the Noun Project

Productivity expert Merlin Mann has compiled a definitive how-to for writing sensible emails that get results. Some highlights:

Make it easy to quote. Power email users will quote and respond to specific sections or sentences of your message. You can facilitate this by keeping your paragraphs short, making them easy to slice and dice.

Skip the overture. If you’re writing to a busy person with an actual question or request, resist the desire to swoon for 2,000 characters. Either write a fan letter or a useful email, but mixing them can seem tacky and disingenuous. 

What’s the action here? If your message includes any kind of request—whether for a meeting, a progress update, a pony ride, or what have you—put that request near the top of the message and clearly state when you will need it. Do not, under any circumstances, assume that your overwhelmed recipient will take the time to sift through your purple prose for clues about what they’re supposed to be doing for you.

Writing better emails doesn’t take much, but knowing how to write an effective one can be the difference between hearing the feedback you’ve been looking for, getting paid on time, and moving a project along smoothly.
Read the rest of his advice over on 43 Folders.

PreviouslyHow To Ask People for Things Via Email: An 8-Step Program

  • AAA

    I’ve found it useful to include your request, or at least what type of action you want, in your subject line. Something like, “Need help tracking down who leads the widget group” or “Would like to meet for coffee next week to discuss next big idea” Then you’ve set up your email and can afford a short personal note at the beginning, especially important if you’re contacting someone not often contacted. You’ve set the expectation, and they know to look for your request. If they’re really busy, they may skim the rest of the email, but they do know that there’s a request there they should do something about and they’ll look for it.

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