Success Tip: Focus on the Recipient When Sending Emails
4 steps for getting the most out of your email communications.
How much time do you waste on back and forth emails? It starts with information, then clarification, then questions, then more clarification, then maybe finally an answer.
This is because when we write, we focus on the content of the communication, not the recipient of the information.
It’s time to change that. Starting right now, I challenge you to focus on the recipient first, and let that drive the content.
Step 1: Start With Your Goal
First things first — what is the purpose of your email?
- Do you want a response? Or is it information sharing?
- Are you asking for feedback? Or do you want approval?
Make the goal known right away. I try to include it in the subject line, if not possible, then in the first paragraph of the email. That way, the recipient knows immediately what is expected of them and the lens through which they are processing the information that follows.
Step 2: Anticipate Their Requirements
Next, with the goal in mind, think about what the recipient needs in order to achieve your goal.
If you’re looking for a decision, focus on what contextual information is needed to make the decision.
- Have you provided scope?
- Have you provided context?
- Have you provided the necessary details to make it explicitly clear what’s involved? Is there any supporting data you should attach?
- Have you included the cost/benefit details?
- Are there any alternatives that you need to include?
- Is there any other information they might need to reach their decision?
My goal is to avoid back and forth. By putting myself in the recipients shoes, and anticipating their follow-up questions, my communications include everything that’s needed to achieve my goal.
Step 3: Make It Clear and Concise
The risk with including the details is that the communication can become lengthy. With that in mind, eliminate unnecessary fluff and repetition, and use formatting to make the text easy to navigate.
Don’t hesitate to use sub-heads, to bold or underline (just don’t over do it), and I’ll even highlight the most important details.
Keep in mind, there is always a chance that your recipient is going to scan the communication on their phone while on the go. Make it easy for them to digest the information in any setting, from any device.
Step 4: Proof Read
One sure fire way to ruin your email, even a thoughtful one, is poor writing skills. Before you hit send, reread your message. Take a minute to proof your work, use the spell check function, and clean up any errors.
This shows consideration for the recipient, and that you take pride in your words. It only takes a second, but it makes a big difference.
Try It Today
Try this with the next goal oriented email you write. Four steps, not a lot of extra time:
- Start with your goal
- Anticipate the recipients requirements
- Make it clear and concise
- Proof Read
Email is a great tool; it allows us to engage anytime, anywhere. It’s a powerful medium that can help make collaboration, and decision making, way faster and easier (cheers to avoiding unnecessary meetings). BUT it can often be misused or underutilized.
By focusing on the recipient, you’re setting yourself up to achieve your goal and avoid wasted time. Plus, added benefit… you’re building confidence with your recipients!