5 Tips for Improving Your Email Messages

Did you know that email is one of the biggest time wasters? If you’re like me and you get hundreds of emails every day, this is probably no surprise to you.

If you want to be more productive with your email, you need to send better email messages, whether you’re originating the email or you’re replying to someone else’s message.

Here are my five tips.

1. Stick to the subject (line)

How many times have you been on an email chain and suddenly someone sends a message that
has nothing to do with what’s in the subject line and it’s on a completely different topic? All that does is confuse people. And your email may get lost. So whether you’re the original sender or you are replying to someone else’s message, make sure the subject line reflects what’s in the body of your message.

2. Write for your audience

Everyone doesn’t have the same knowledge, the same understanding, the same skill set, or the same tools and information at their disposal. Make sure you know who you’re writing to and include all of the information that they might need. Your clients don’t have the same level of understanding of legal concepts as a colleague might or an adversary might.

3. Use the KISS method

KISS stands for Keep It Short and Simple.

No one wants to see big walls of text in an email. So be as succinct as you possibly can. Eliminate extraneous words. Use bullet points or numbered lists if that might help your recipient to understand the message and find what’s important to them.

4. Request a specific action

If you want someone to do something as a result of reading your email, whether that’s just acknowledging that they received it or undertaking a specific task, make sure you make an explicit request in the body of your email. And if you’re emailing multiple recipients, call out exactly who you want to do that task by name. If you’re sending an email to five people and you just say, “Please make sure this gets done,” everyone will assume somebody else is going to do it.

5. Use an email signature

An email signature helps people understand who you are, where you come from, and how they can get in contact with you.

Want more productivity tips like this? Pick up a copy of the brand new second edition of How To Do More in Less Time from the American Bar Association website, or see these posts and videos below: