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How to Send Clearer Emails

A lot of our communication is by email, and while it seems efficient, it may actually cause more confusion. Here are Get-It-Done Guy's tips for streamlining email communication. 

By
Stever Robbins,
February 5, 2015

Email seems like a very efficient way to communicate because for some reason your brain gets little spikes of happy-juice when writing and sending an email.

But for most people, typing is much slower than talking. The real kicker is that when you're writing an email, you have all the context in your head, ready to go. You know what you intend, and since email is one-way, they can't ask for clarification. And this can go terribly, terribly wrong...

A young woman recently wrote to me saying: "There's a great new web site! It has cool info on it!" 

But what does that mean? Why is she telling me this? Does she want me to review it? To join as a user? To invest in it? To coach the founders?

It took 3 back-and-forths before I gave up. She never quite said what she wanted and as a result, it was a huge waste of time for both of us.

When sending an email, if you expect action from the recipient, make your action requests blindingly clear. Include a summary in any message that has a specific request. At the end of the message, add a summary. Here's an example:

Summary:

  • Please send me the art boards.

  • I'll send you the telephone sanitizers.

Then your recipient can even ignore your entire message, if they choose, and go straight for the to-do's. The clearer you can communicate, and the more you make your messages super-easy to read, the more your email will help your communication, rather than hindering it.

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