What’s the Bottom Line?

How to Send E-mails That Cut to the Chase & Cut Down on Your E-mail Load

Keyboard Chances are good that you’re receiving tons of e-mail like everyone else, but have you stopped to consider if you’re contributing to e-mail overload because you’re sending too many e-mails or if what you’re sending are worded efficiently and effectively?

Are you sending the kind that get to the bottom line quickly or are you adding to the endless amounts of back and forth e-mail strings out there?

I see many types of e-mail overload contributions when I work with clients. My client or their colleagues, bosses and staff are often…

  1. Copying people to death when they don’t need to know
  2. Abusing the company distribution list with too many jokes or announcements
  3. Sending e-mails that are too long
  4. Sending e-mail when the information could wait for the next meeting or weekly report
  5. Sending e-mail when they should really be using the phone

I see all of these situations and more as I work with my clients, who are on both sides of the fence as overloaded and also overloading others.

But one of the things I see far too often is my clients, who are in leadership positions, asking questions of others in an e-mail when they should be more proactive and more directive.

They type up e-mails that aren’t as efficient and effective as they could be, because they’re not thinking ahead about all the possible scenarios or outcomes from their first question and they’re not phrasing their e-mail in such a way that it encourages fast progress or gets to a conclusion more quickly.

It causes far more e-mails to be sent back and forth than necessary.

Here’s an example from an experience with one of my clients…

My client wanted to get a document loaded to the company Intranet. He wasn’t sure if it was there, but was certain he wanted it loaded if it wasn’t already there. He phrased his original e-mail to the other person by saying:

“Have you seen this document on the Intranet? Do you know if it’s there?”

I stopped him and reminded him that he said he really wanted this document on the company Intranet – and we’re assuming we want the most recent, up-to-date version – so why ask a yes or no question?

Are you really sending an e-mail that will get the most efficient, effective results?

If you’re 80% or more sure that it’s already there, then go ahead and ask your yes or no question. Otherwise, if it could be 50/50, getting a “no” will leave you having to send additional e-mails to get it loaded and verified. And even a “yes” could raise new questions like “Is it the right version?”

So why not cut to the chase?

Just send a direct, proactive e-mail and ask that it be loaded and checked for being the right version. I recommended this message instead, after a proper salutation:

“Please load this document to the company Intranet if you don’t see it there. Make sure it’s the most up to date version and let me know when our team can access it.”

…and be done with it.

This new message covers all possible scenarios and doesn’t leave you with delayed progress in case it was a “no” or “yes, but I don’t know if it’s the right one.”

In the end, the more proactive your e-mails are worded and the fewer you send, the fewer you’re likely to receive in return and have to manage, which I know you’d appreciate. So cut to the chase… bottom-line it… keep it short and sweet and others will appreciate receiving and managing less, too!

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