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Writing Effective Emails: Mastering Todays Number

One Tool for Business Communication

FEATURED FACULTY:
Philip Vassallo, Ed.D., Writing Management, Design, Instruction, and Assessment
732-721-7577
phil@philvassallo.com

Philip Vassallo, Ed.D., Writing Management, Design, Instruction, and Assessment


Philip Vassallo has developed, delivered, and supervised communication training
programs for a wide range of managerial, administrative, and technical professionals in
corporate, government, and academic environments. He has also taught writing and
presentation skills on the graduate and undergraduate university levels, most recently
for the Beijing International MBA program at Peking University.
He has served as an essay and speech evaluator for the Educational Testing Service
on standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Examination, College Level
Examination Placement, Graduate Management Admissions Test, and the Test of
Spoken English. He also has provided writing coaching and assessment services for
numerous corporate employees.
Dr. Vassallo is the author of the books How to Write Fast Under Pressure, on writing
efficiently; The Art of On-the-Job Writing, on work-related writing; The Art of E-Mail
Writing, on business e-mail; The Inwardness of the Outward Gaze, on philosophy and
teaching; and The Choice Movement and Educational Equity, on education. He also
writes Words on the Line, a column and a blog on effective writing. He has contributed
to many literary and educational publications, and to books by McGraw-Hill, St. Martins
Press, and Simon & Schuster. Ten of his plays have been staged in New York and
elsewhere, and he has won or been a finalist in several state and national playwriting
competitions.
Dr. Vassallo holds a bachelors degree in English from Baruch College, a masters in
education from Lehman College, and a doctorate in educational theory from Rutgers
University. He is a past president of the New Jersey College English Association.

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Writing the Right Email

Welcome!

Presented by Philip Vassallo, Ed.D.

Your Instructor
author of three books on workrelated writing, the blog Words on
the Line, and 50+ published articles
on writing theory and practice
instructional designer, trainer, writer,
and editor for corporate and
government clients
writing assessor of standardized tests
faculty member of Beijing
International MBA program
doctorate in educational theory
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2012 Philip Vassallo

Writing the Right Email

Tips from Three Sources

Webinar Objectives
1. Master the unique challenges of email.
2. Compose purposeful, reader-focused emails.
3. Employ strategies for creating a courteous tone.
4. Manage your email system effectively and
efficiently.

2012 Philip Vassallo

Writing the Right Email

4S Email Writing Product

Statement getting to the point


Support addressing the issues
Structure organizing your ideas
Style coming across professionally

Email Rewards vs. Risks


A Delicate Balance
REWARD

RISK

1. Saves time for sender.

1. Could waste receivers time.

2. Promotes brevity.

2. Could promote ambiguity.

3. Encourages casual style.

3. Could cause tone problems.

4. Eases sending to multiple


readers.

4. Could annoy multiple


readers.

5. Contributes to paperless
world.

5. Could contribute to losing


key information.

6. Stimulates writing and


reading.

6. Could inundate readers with


information overload.
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Writing the Right Email

Request, Draft 1
Suppose Ava received from Otto, a coworker, the following email:
To:
Ava
From: Otto

Re: XYZ Report


Date: Today 1:23 p.m.

Ava,
Question: When will the XYZ report be ready? Ill be referring to it during my conference call with
Calvin Client next Friday. This meeting represents a great business opportunity for us. Hope it all
works out. Do you need my help to prepare it? Id be glad to help. Also, Ill be out of town on
Thursday, so Ill need you to lock up the office that afternoon.
Thanks,
Otto

And Ava responded with the following email:


To:
Otto
From: Ava

Re: Re: XYZ Report


Date: Today 1:30 p.m.

Ill email you the report on Tuesday.


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Five Common Email Problems


2. an opening that does not
cover the entire message
To:
Ava
From: Otto

1. a subject line that does


not preview the purpose

Re: XYZ Report


Date: Today 1:23 p.m.
3. a single paragraph that
conveys more than one idea

Ava,

Question: When will the XYZ report be ready? Ill be referring to it during
my conference call with Calvin Client next Friday. This meeting represents
a great business opportunity for us. Hope it all works out. Do you need my
help to prepare it? Id be glad to help. Also, Ill be out of town on Thursday,
so Ill need you to lock up the office that afternoon.
Thanks,
Otto

5. a closing without
clear next steps.

4. a key point buried at


the end of the message
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2012 Philip Vassallo

Writing the Right Email

Premise 1: The Art of E-mail Writing

Email is writing, not talking.

Email Solution: Getting to the Point


1. Preview the purpose in the subject line.

Avoid Vague Subject Lines

Prefer Focused Subject Lines

Re: Update

Re: Project XYZ Update

Re: Meeting

Re: Quality Assurance Meeting Minutes

Re: Smartphone

Re: Proposal for a TrueX Smartphone

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Writing the Right Email

Email Solution: Getting to the Point


2. State the purpose immediately.
The Purpose Here is an update of Project XYZ.
The Point

To describe the work completed, issues encountered, issues


addressed, and remaining work for Project XYZ.

The Purpose The minutes of our Quality Assurance meeting appear below.
The Point

To note the agenda issues addressed, lessons learned, newest


action items, and staff assigned to address them.

The Purpose Purchasing a TrueX smartphone for our project managers will
improve data sharing in remote locations, responsiveness to
management and client inquiries, and access to client databases.
The Point

To describe how purchasing a smartphone would inexpensively


achieve the three stated objectives for the project managers.
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Email Solution: Getting to the Point


3. Reinforce the purpose with focused next
steps in the closing .
Purpose

Here is an update of Project XYZ.

Next Steps

You will receive a final update upon completion of Project XYZ.

Purpose

The minutes of our Quality Assurance meeting appear below.

Next Steps

The next QA meeting will be on March 4 in Conference Room 2 at


1 p.m. Please contact QA if you wish to amend these minutes.

Purpose

Purchasing a TrueX smartphone for our project managers will


improve data sharing in remote locations, responsiveness to
management and client inquiries, and access to client databases.

Next steps

Please allow time to discuss this proposal at our next staff meeting,
and click here for more information about the TrueX smartphone.

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2012 Philip Vassallo

Writing the Right Email

Request, Draft 2
If Otto reported to Ava and wanted to be deferential, he
could write this message:
To:
Ava
From: Otto

Re: Two Business Issues


Date: Today 1:23 p.m.

Ava,
Please answer the following questions:
Will the XYZ report be ready before my conference call with Calvin Client on Friday?
Can you lock up the office on Thursday, as I will be out of town that afternoon?
Please let me know by 4:30 p.m. today.
Thanks,
Otto

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Request, Draft 3
If Otto managed Ava and wanted to be more assertive, he
could write this message:
To:
Ava
From: Otto

Re: Two Business Issues


Date: Today 1:23 p.m.

Ava,
I need your help:
Submit the XYZ report to me by Thursday for my conference call with Calvin Client.
Lock up the office on Thursday, as I will be out of town that afternoon.
Please confirm by 4:30 p.m. today that youll handle these issues.
Thanks,
Otto

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2012 Philip Vassallo

Writing the Right Email

Use PDF Structure


Purpose States the point of the email

Details Supports the purpose with needed details

Follow-through States next steps that connect to the purpose


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Improvements in Purposefulness
1. The purpose is clear in the subject lineeven before Ava
reads the message.
2. The first sentence immediately focuses Ava on her role.
3. The last sentence gives Ava a clear deadline.
4. The numbered points make the details readily apparent to
Ava.
5. Otto wastes no words. (The first message is 68 words, and
the second message is 47 wordsa 31% word reduction.)

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Writing the Right Email

Premise 5: The Art of E-mail Writing

An email should have


only one purpose.

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Halftime Review
1. Preview the purpose in the
subject line.
2. State the purpose immediately.
3. Reinforce the purpose with
focused next steps in the closing.
4. Use PDF to structure the email.

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2012 Philip Vassallo

Writing the Right Email

Tone = Attitude
accusatory

brusque

distracted

humorous

positive

aggressive

casual

enthusiastic

impersonal

rushed

angry

cautious

evasive

inflexible

sarcastic

annoyed

concerned

firm

negative

sincere

arrogant

condescending

focused

obsequious

stilted

assertive

confident

formal

perfunctory

technical

bland

courteous

friendly

personal

uncertain

blunt

defensive

helpful

pompous

warm

always

never

depends
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Influences on Tone
1. the message you are sending
2. your relationship with the reader

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2012 Philip Vassallo

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Writing the Right Email

Checking Your Tone


1. Read your message from the readers
viewpoint and with your purpose in mind.
2. Ask someone you trust to read your
message.

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Balancing Content & Context

Content Language
need-to-know information

Context Language
nice-to-know information
helpful-to-know information

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2012 Philip Vassallo

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Writing the Right Email

Which email works better in this case?


Email 2: Content Language with Context Language
Hello Jane,
Thank you for your interest in True Banks home mortgage
services. To get your application process running smoothly, I
have attached three documents for your review:
Homebuyers Guide provides plenty of information to help
you make the best home purchase choice for your family.
Email 1: Content Language Only
Jane,
Attached are the following files:
Homebuyers Guide

Mortgage Application is the actual form we ask you to


complete so that we can assess your eligibility for the
mortgage.
Loan Application Checklist summarizes everything you
should have available and be aware of during the application
process.

Mortgage Application
Loan Application Checklist

I hope you give True Bank the opportunity to prove what great
service we provide and welcome any question you may have. All
the best with your home purchase!

Call me if you need anything else.


Tarzan

Regards,
Tarzan
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Premise 11: The Art of E-mail Writing

The level of context


depends on the readers.

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2012 Philip Vassallo

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Writing the Right Email

Dealing with Email


FEELING
1. Control your emotions.
2. Avoid emoticons, smileys, and other silly devices.
COMPOSING
3. Avoid hard-to-read fonts.
4. Avoid all upper-case or all lower-case letters.
ATTACHING
5. Attach documents thoughtfully.
6. Clearly describe your attachment in the email.
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Dealing with Email (continued)


COPYING
7. Do not copy everyone.
8. Think about the implications of blind copying.
INITIATING
9. Assume nothing.
10.Avoid the read receipt requested feature.
RESPONDING
11.Consider whether email is the best way to reply.
12.Cut the length of the email string.
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2012 Philip Vassallo

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Writing the Right Email

Dealing with Email (continued)


FORWARDING
13. Help your reader understand forwarded email.
14. Do not forward email unnecessarily.
REVIEWING
15. Update your lists.
16. Update your entire management system.

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Premise 19: The Art of E-mail Writing

In standard email, the rules


of standard writing apply.

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2012 Philip Vassallo

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Writing the Right Email

Email Checklist
STATEMENT
1. Does my subject line clearly preview the
message?
2. If initiating, do I open with a purpose
statement at the top of the message?
3. If responding, do I stick to the point introduced
by the initiator?
4. Do I conclude with clear next steps that
logically connect to the purpose?
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Email Checklist (continued)


SUPPORT
5. Do my details support the purpose?
6. Do my details address all my readers concerns
related to the purpose?

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2012 Philip Vassallo

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Writing the Right Email

E-mail Checklist (continued)


STRUCTURE
7. Does the message contain the purpose, details,
and follow-through?
8. Do my ideas connect in a logical order?
9. Do I separate my ideas by paragraph?
10. Do I use headings and bullets where useful?

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E-mail Checklist (continued)


STYLE
11. Does the tone of the message suit the purpose
and audience?
12. Is the message written clearly?
13. Is the message written concisely?
14. Is the message free of grammatical,
punctuation, and spelling errors?

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2012 Philip Vassallo

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Writing the Right Email

Premise 21: The Art of E-mail Writing

Use the email checklist


before pressing send.

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Questions

List any tips from this webinar that you


want to remember and put into practice.
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2012 Philip Vassallo

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Writing the Right Email

Thank You!

To your emailing success!

PHILIP VASSALLO, ED.D.


Writing Management, Design, Instruction, and Assessment
21 Cori Street
E-mail: Phil@PhilVassallo.com
Parlin, NJ 08859-1719
Website: www.PhilVassallo.com
Office: 1-732-721-7577
Blog: www.WordsontheLine.blogspot.com
Mobile: 1-732-718-3361
Tweets: www.Twitter.com/PhilVassallo
Fax: 1-732-727-7491
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/PhilVassallo
Author of How to Write Fast Under Pressure, The Art of E-mail Writing, and The Art of On-the-Job Writing
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