Given the flood of e-mail that people are receiving these days, a problematic practice has developed—skimming. With a full 70% of readers skimming their e-mails to get the facts, it is very important that you make sure the main points are easily identifiable in all your outgoing e-mail. Here are a few helpful hints to help enhance the impact of your e-correspondence:
Keep messages short. As with any letter writing, it is important to be very concise. The fewer words in the e-mail, the more likely it will be thoroughly read.
Make your requests for action specific and clear. If you are requesting someone to do something, don’t bury it in the middle of a message. General requests have a habit of being minimized. So if you want someone to meet with you, "Please schedule a half-hour meeting with me no later than Friday of this week" works better than, "Let’s meet sometime this week."
Place your action or request in the first line of the e-mail. Most people read the first sentence. This is where your specific action, request, or summation should be. The further down the e-mail, the less likely it will be read.
When directing or requesting a task to be done, place only one address in the "To" line. This establishes responsibility. If you put several e-mail addresses in the "To" line, there is a chance the targeted recipient will think the responsibility is not theirs.
Call, then summarize. People may not read a lengthy or complicated e-mail closely. Instead of writing a five-paragraph e-mail, call the person first, discuss the matter, and then summarize the issue in an e-mail.