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Use E-mail More Effectively

Write the main point, request, or question in the very first sentence of your e-mail message.

This one practice, alone, could have a huge impact on the quality of your communications and the responses you get to your e-mail messages.

Despite all of the business-letter-writing workshops that plead with writers to put the main point up front, far too many people still bury their main points in the body of their e-mails. This may be because we all have a tendency to build up to a conclusion or a request as a way of thinking, but unfortunately this pattern doesn’t work well in written form.

By forcing ourselves to select and isolate the main point of the communication, then move it to the very first sentence of the e-mail message, we can accomplish several things:

We clarify our own intentions.

We focus the reader, and provide the context supported by the remainder of the text.

We avoid the reader missing the point or failing to answer the question.

We save time.

Because many e-mail readers skim, the longer the e-mail message, and the more buried the main point is, the more likely that main point will be missed. Placing it up front is an easy solution.

Marsha Egan

Reading, Pa.

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