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6 ways to ensure your email gets read

If youre like a lot of us, you get so much email every day that you might spend as little as
15 seconds scanning a message to determine how it applies to you. Now, imagine that
other people are reading your email the same way. If they can't uickly identify the
purpose of your message, theyll pro!a!ly delete it or leave it in the In!o" for #later#$ if
later ever comes.
In this article, I give 6 tips to ensure that your email messages are read and get the attention they deserve.
1. Make the purpose of the message clear
%hen recipients receive your email message, they should !e a!le to see at a uick glance how the message
relates to them and why its important. &hey may !e looking at a preview of your message in 'icrosoft (utlook or
on a %indows phone or %indows 'o!ile device, such as a personal digital assistant )*+,-. (r they may see only
.u!/ect lines in their In!o". If your .u!/ect line is confusing and irrelevant, your email will surely get deleted in a
hurry. 0ere are some e"amples of what can !e included in .u!/ect lines to make sure the reader opens your mail1
, standard su!/ect heading such as #,ction 2euested,# #2esponse 2euested,# #34I,# or #2ead (nly,#
depending on the action indicated in the !ody of the message.
&he meaningful o!/ective or supporting pro/ect that the message relates to, for e"ample, #34 '55 !udget
forecasting.#
&he reuired action if applica!le, for e"ample, #6onsolidate departmental !udget spreadsheets.#
&he due date if applica!le, for e"ample, #+ue !y 7uly 8.#
,n e"ample of an effective .u!/ect line is #,ction 2euested$6onsolidate all department spreadsheets for 34
'56 !udget and return to me !y 7une 15th.#
2. Tell recipients what action you want them to take
9e completely clear a!out the actions you want the recipients to take. 9e specific and put all the material that is
related to an action in one place. &o get even faster responses, talk a!out how the action relates to the recipient's
o!/ectives, and always give due dates. It's also important to clarify what type of action you want the recipient to
take. &here are !asically four types of actions you could reuest. If you make this level of detail clear, the
recipient will !e most likely to read the email and take the action right away. &he four actions include1
Action: &he recipient needs to perform an action. 3or e"ample, #*rovide a proposal for a 5: reduction in
&ravel ; <ntertainment e"pense.#
Respond: &he recipient needs to respond to your message with specific information. 3or e"ample, #=et
me know if you can attend the staff meeting at >155 ,.'. on 3riday.#
Read only: &he recipient needs to read your message to make sure they understand something. No
response is necessary. 3or e"ample, #*lease read the attached sales plan !efore our ne"t staff meeting
on ,ugust 1?th.#
FY only: &he recipient should file your message for future reference. No response is necessary. In fact,
even reading the message is optional. 3or e"ample, #<nclosed for your records are your completed
e"pense reports.#
!. "ro#ide the proper data and documents
'ake sure you give recipients all of the information they need to complete an action or respond successfully to
your reuest. 4our co@workers shouldn't have to come !ack to you asking for information, whether it is a
supporting document or a link to a file on a shared we!site. 4ou can include supporting information in the !ody of
the message, in an attached file, or in an attached email. In %indows =ive 0otmail, you can use the Auick ,dd
feature, which lets you search for and insert content such as images, video, restaurant details, maps, and movie
times into your email messages, without ever leaving 0otmail. In addition, if you want recipients to fill out a form,
it's a good idea to attach a sample copy of the form that shows how it should !e filled out.
$. %end the message only to rele#ant recipients
&arget your message to the appropriate audience. (nly people who have to complete an action on the .u!/ect
line should receive your message. 9e thoughtful and respectful when you enter names on the &o line. *eople
o!serve your thoughtfulness and the results are more effective. 0ere are two simple uestions to help you filter
the &o line recipients1
+oes this email relate to the recipient's o!/ectivesB
Is the recipient responsi!le for the action in the .u!/ect lineB
&. 'se the (( line wisely
It's tempting to put loads of people on the 66 line to cover your !ases, !ut doing so is one of the fastest ways to
create an unproductive environment. 0ere are some things to consider when using the 66 line1
No action or response should !e e"pected of individuals on the 66 line. &he recipient needs to only read
or file the message.
(nly those individuals whose meaningful o!/ectives are affected !y the email should !e included on the
message. If you are not sure that the information is related to a co@worker's o!/ectives, check with that
person to see if they want to receive your email on that topic.
). Ask *final +uestions* ,efore you click %end
&he final thing you want to do is check your work to !e sure you are supporting meaningful actions. .ending
clear, well@defined messages can reduce the volume of email you send and receive, encouraging correct action,
saving time, and limiting email trails. 'ake sure you ask the following uestions !efore you send the message1
0ave I clarified purpose and actionsB
0ave I included supporting documents and written a clear .u!/ect lineB
+id I write the message clearly enough that it does not come !ack to me with uestionsB
,m I sending the message to the correct recipientsB
0ave I run the spelling checker and edited the message for grammar and /argonB
-onus: .on/t send 0unk email
(ne of the uickest ways to get onto your recipients' #delete radar# is to overwhelm them with meaningless email.
2esponding to email with #I got your email, thanks,# or sending out lots of irrelevant data that you think they might
want to know a!out is a uick way to create a track record of sending unproductive mail.
&o summariCe, it is incredi!ly easy to create an unproductive culture using email. 3ollow these guidelines and you
can !e sure you and your team are a!le to keep focused on meaningful o!/ectives and don't create email
overload.