How to Make Sure Your E-mails are Read

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.

Marsha Egan President Reading, Penn.

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