Email Communication

Email has become a major means of communication for the majority of computer users. As an avid email user, I have collected some tips over time to get your point across using email.

  • Use meaningful subject line – Your email will show up showing only the subject line when users first see it, so you had better use it the best you can. Try to describe the message in less than 10 words.
  • Don’t use the subject line as the start of the email – I cant stand getting emails like
      Subject: Hey I wanted your opinion...
      Body:... on this email.  What do you think?

    Now how would that look if the user’s client did not display the Subject line right before the body? Could they understand the message? Probably not.

  • Important, Yea Sure – Don’t set the important flag unless you know that the user will jump to action right away regarding the information. Good examples: a meeting was changed from 2 hours from now to 5 minutes or a critical server just when down (and this is sent to the sysadmin).
  • CC: – Before you click send, do you really think everyone you are sending this to really needs to read it? If not then don’t send it to them.
  • Background Images – Do not send email with a background. If the recipient uses text mode, they will be forced to download the image for each message. If they use HTML mail the this image could distract from the message of the email. If you want something ‘different’, use a light shade of a color.
  • Replying – When you reply to anyone,
    quote their name and only quote the parts of the message you are commenting on. If you think you need to have a copy of the original email included, place a note at the very bottom “Original Message Follows” and copy it here.
  • Replying to Mailing lists – If you reply to a mailing list, first check that you are actually sending the message to the list and not the original poster. Also if you need to quote someone, keep their name near their message so everyone will know who you are referencing.
  • What is your goal? – I saved the most important for last, for every message you should take some time to think about what your goal or desired result of sending this email would be. This does not have to be time consuming, if someone asked you to lunch your goal would be to accept or decline that lunch. If you cannot figure out the goal of the email, it could just be better to reply to the sender thanking them for the email and then filing it away for reference

So here are seven quick tips that should help to improve the communication effectiveness. Even if you only use one of these tips, you should be able to get some better results out of your email use. Above all, think of why you are using email and what results you want form it.

Eric Davis

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