Words by Tess Robinson, Smack Bang Designs
Just in case you were wondering, I like emails about as much as I like poking myself in the eye with wasabi infused chop-sticks.
It’s tedious, it’s time-consuming and chews up way too many hours in a day. I can’t wait until the day that we refine our telepathy skills and just send our thoughts to one another through the atmosphere. Man is that going to be fun, and weird.
In the meantime though, let’s do each other a favour and tidy up our email etiquette. Here are my top tips to keeping each others inboxes happy.
DON’T CHEW THE FAT
The average human lifespan is 39,420,000 minutes. When you’re composing your email, be aware of how many precious minutes this email is going to chew up of your recipient’s life. Minutes they will never get back. Keep it short, sweet and get to the point. I always try to state the purpose of my email within the first 1-2 sentences.
SPARE US YOUR STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Be organised, collect your thoughts and refine your ideas. Don’t dump a heap of words into an email and leave it up to fate, hard work and a whole lotta deciphering for your recipient to figure out what you are trying to say.
STYLE IT REAL GOOD
Bullet your points, number your questions and underline your urgent. If the email is longer than a paragraph or two, use visual techniques like subheadings, lists and font styles to make it easy for people to read – your recipient will thank you later.
SAVE YOUR ROBOT SKILLS FOR DANCING
Be human and write the way that you would naturally speak. Ditch the corporate jargon and unnecessary formalities. We’re all friends here. Also, understand that there is another person at the other end of the line – a real life human being with only 24 hours in their day – so make sure you’re not emailing them a question that Wikipedia can answer for you.
SEX UP YOUR SUBJECT LINE
A clear, direct subject line will win you friends and get your email responded to. Your subject line should spell out the intent of your message simply and succinctly and use keywords that will be helpful when people are searching for your email in the labyrinth of their inbox. Save your cryptic skills for the Sunday crossword.
HIT UP THE HOTLINE
If you’re about to tap-tap-taparoo out something of importance, whether it be complicated, convoluted, confusing or just a tad bit touchy, it may well pay pick up the phone instead. A phone call can often prevent misunderstandings that lead to lengthy email threads that would give the great wall of China a run for its money.
FINE TUNE YOUR TONE
When you communicate with someone in the flesh, 93% of the message is nonverbal. Unfortunately, email misses out on that crucial tone of voice and body language and relies solely on the scarce 7%. If you’re sarcasm has ever been misinterpreted via cyberspace, you’ll understand what I mean. The recipient can’t see your wild facial expressions or hear your cheeky tone of voice so chose your words carefully and thoughtfully.
SEND THEM OFF SCOT-FREE
Whenever possible, end with the kindest words known to man:
“No response needed.”