Emails with impact
Here’s our top tips for writing effective project management emails:
1. Pay attention to your title
It’s vital to include the right information in the subject field of your email and in the right order.
Don’t write: Re. recent meeting
Do write: Re. meeting with Vodafone 10 June – summary. (minutes attached)
Don’t write: Re. new project
Do Write: Important – Re. new SKY TV project – instructions for phase 1
The subject of the email is the first thing that the recipient will see, and it must tell them exactly what the message is about. It should also ensure that it is easy for recipients to archive the message correctly and to find it again should they need to review it. When recipients reply to the message, if the subject is clear, you will also know immediately what their response is about.
2. Address the Email Correctly
In the To: field, enter only the addresses of those who are required to read the message and take action. If you would like to forward the message to anyone else for information purposes only, enter their addresses in the CC: field. But be sparing here. Think carefully about who really needs to see the information, otherwise you will be overloading your colleagues’ inboxes unnecessarily.
If you need to forward the message to someone but don’t want the other recipients to know, enter that person’s address in the BCC: field. For data protection purposes, it is also important to use this field if you shouldn’t be revealing a recipient’s email address.
3. Get to the point – quickly
The first sentence of the email should state clearly what you want. It is important to engage the reader immediately and to be clear about what you require of them.
Don’t write: Gosh the weather is terrible here today. I am sorry this message is late but, the traffic was terrible because of the heavy rain. Anyway, could you please complete the first draft of the instruction manual for the new Miele washing machine by tomorrow.
Do write: Important – please complete the translation of the instruction manual for the Miele VW658 washing machine by 5pm tomorrow (12 June).
4. End every message with a call to action
The final lines of your message should reiterate your instructions and clarify exactly what action you are expecting. This will reduce the possibility of misunderstandings and the necessity for the recipient of your message to email you asking questions.
Don’t write: Sorry to press you for the work. Let me know if you have any questions.
Do write: Let me know immediately if you have any questions. Please complete the requested work by 5pm tomorrow (12 June). Once completed, please forward the file as a Word document directly to me, and only to me.
5. Restrict your calls to action
Don’t overcomplicate your instructions in your communications. Try to feature only one or two calls to action. Simple instructions will result in fewer queries and swifter responses. If you need to communicate complicated instructions, create a document and send it as an attachment.
6. Save the details for the middle
The recipient of your email will judge whether it requires their immediate attention by reading the subject and the first line. You should feature any further details in the middle of your email. This will enable the recipient to scan your message quickly and to assess whether they need to read it all or save it for a more convenient moment. Always write concisely so that your messages are as short as possible.
7. Draw attention to attachments
Everyone will occasionally forget to include their intended attachments or send a file that the recipient cannot open. If you don’t emphasise that you are including attachments, the recipient won’t know that these are missing, should you forget to attach them. In addition, attachments are easily overlooked and so you must refer to them in the body of the email.
8. Include an informative signature
An informative signature will ensure that recipients can respond quickly and appropriately to your communications. Here’s an example of an informative signature: