In this column, Vista provides practical tips to help you write clearly and concisely, including best practices for using Microsoft Word. Please leave suggestions for future posts in the comments. Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss a tip!
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It’s tough to remember what we did before email. It’s a fantastic tool for communication, but it comes with problems too. Most of us have experienced email overload, written a message that was received the wrong way, or read a message we couldn’t understand! The tips below will help you to ensure your message is sent to the right people and that they understand your intent.
- Carefully consider your recipients. Only send your e-mail to people who need to receive it – avoid CC-ing people “FYI.”
- Clearly state your requests. If you need something from your recipient, tell them directly what you need them to do and when – don’t assume your readers are carefully reading your message and diligently seeking out action items.
- Use the three sentence rule. If you can’t say what you need to say in three sentences, consider picking up the phone or restructuring your message.
- Write as if everyone is going to read your message. Emails have a funny way of ending up all over the place – assume your recipient might forward it around, even if you ask them not to.
- Don’t write when you’re angry. Wait till you calm down before writing the email, or draft it and leave it unsent, then revise it later. It’s easy to say things in the heat of the moment you might regret.
- Respond in a timely fashion. If you don’t reply, the sender might think you’re ignoring them. If you need more time to fill their request, let them know.
- Be polite. Don’t forget to say “Hello” and “Thank you,” and address your recipient by name.