5 Steps to Get Your Email Read
The majority of emails are read while multitasking – most likely on a mobile device – so the author is constantly fighting for full attention. You have something to say – money, health or major business decisions may be riding on it – and it is entirely frustrating when the message is not fully received. However, in today’s fragmented workplace email is still the best format for corporate communications.
Approximately $37 billion per year is lost due to poor communication according to a study by the Holmes Report. Assuredly companies that have great communicators as leaders have 47% higher returns than those that don’t. Many leaders pride themselves on constant communication, yet still have issues in execution. The emails are being read, but the message is still lost.
Get your message through the first time. Here is a tried and true way to make sure that your email is read:
#1. Call out team members by name
If this email is going to 5 or less people you need to name each person in the “To” line. It is much easier to rationalize that an email was not meant for you if it starts with “hello” vs your name.
If you are giving out tasks to team members throughout the email start a new paragraph with the person’s name in bold (think of it as an email within an email) this way the person can skim to their callout and, at the very least, carry out the task meant for them.
#2. Write for all 3 types of email readers
Reader 1: First Sentencers – These are people who only read the first sentence of each paragraph to get the “gist” of the email. Put the main meat of your paragraph into the first sentence. If someone reads the first sentence of each of your paragraphs they should get the full message in abbreviated form.
Reader 2: One Paragraphers – Most people experience readers fatigue after one paragraph. If you have not stated the importance of your message in the first paragraph you give them no reason to read on.
Reader 3: Complete Emailers – Your favorite people. The people that take the time to read the entire email regardless of length. There is actually a reason for this reader to be your favorite because they are most likely your biggest supporters. People take more time reading emails from people they know and like. The problem is that this reader is normally not your main audience for the communication so don’t depend on a full read. You don’t know and like everyone you write to in business; however, the more people respect you vs. fear you, the more they will take the time to read and do what you say.
#3. Write no more than 3 paragraphs in an email
Otherwise the email is perceived as too long and will be abandoned after first review. If you can’t fit it into 3 paragraphs save some of the message for a separate email.
#4. Keep the paragraphs short
Two to three sentences max. If you can’t get it all in briefly then bold the parts that need to be read so they can be found in longer paragraphs while skimming.
#5. Summarize the entire email in the last sentence
Or allude to the overall email’s importance if you can’t get in all of the main points. The last sentence is the most important sentence in the email. It is a stand alone sentence, a one-sentence paragraph right before your Thanks/Sincerely byline. Both reader types #1 and #2 read this sentence and sometimes it can be compelling enough to make the reader go back up and read more if they think they have missed something.
It is better to over-communicate than under-communicate.
If you think your message was still not received after sending your email, feel free to send the message again – in a different email format – a few days later. An informed business is a better business.