I’ve been having a problem with my youngest son lately. He isn’t reading all the emails he should be reading. In fact, we almost missed paying some fees he had due for college, which could have made him miss some deadlines for school. You see, Nate’s a busy college student. He’s consumed with school work, church activities, and a host of social activities. If you want to lose his attention quickly…send him a really long email.
I can’t complain, because he’s wired like me. He is always busy doing something, hates unproductive time, and some emails, if they tend to ramble, simply don’t capture his attention. I realize it’s ultimately our problem, not the sender, but to us it almost seems a waste of time to process an email that could have been written with the same information in a much shorter form. Just being honest…I don’t read all the long emails I need to read. Sometimes I miss details, because the email was too long to process.
That’s my honesty….I’m working on it…but lately it seems I’m getting a ton of chapter length emails and it prompted me to think through this issue. If you want to ensure I read your email…and people wired like me, here are some suggestions. In fact, if you simply want to make sure your emails are read, regardless of who you email, consider these thoughts.
Here are 7 ways to ensure your email gets read:
Make sure your name is clearly listed in the FROM line - I am more likely to read an email from an individual than I am an organization.
Make the recipient ME – I’m less likely to read an email addressed to a group…even if the group is summarized by your name.
Write a great subject heading – “Hey” is probably not good enough…It needs to capture the reader’s attention enough to want to open the email.
Get started immediately with the main idea – Similar to the rules of writing a letter, you should instantly begin dealing with the subject of the email.
Give pertinent details but don’t write a book - Bullet points sometimes help.
Consider the length – Before pressing send, look at the overall length of the email. Would you read it…or would the length encourage you to put it aside for a later read…or skip it altogether? Remember many may read it on a smart phone and the email will appear even longer.
Give the option to ask questions - Close your email with the opportunity to ask questions if the reader wants more details or information.
The more emails we send and receive, the more important it becomes that we write better emails. Writing emails that are to the point and condense ensures a greater chance of them being read.
One idea our small group pastor used recently was to have two sections to a longer email. He had a “just the facts” section at the top with bullet points of pertinent facts, followed by a longer section for those who may want to read more detailed explanations. It worked well to capture my attention. I read the first section only!
Now your turn to be honest…when you receive a really long email, how do you respond?
What would you add to my list? What ideas do you have for writing emails that get read?