I try not to write long emails, but I often fail. I suppose writing an email to tell the poor bludgeoned recipients that I’ve seen the error of my ways is not the best of ideas?
I saw this post: Your Emails Are Too Long: Here’s How to Fix Them on Lifehacker today. It was a good and timely reminder as I’ve been backsliding a bit of late with some fairly lengthy email missives.
The key points I took from the post and a couple of my own observations are:
- Long emails don’t get read.
- Not being clear about the points you want to discuss before you start writing causes rambling.
- And rambling will result in an email that should have been split into two or more emails covering different topics.
- Including unnecessary previous emails is a pet peeve of mine. It doesn’t take a moment to delete the earlier correspondence from an email reply. It makes the message easier to read and follow. Only include the earlier mails if you intend to refer directly to them, and then I find it better to quote passages rather than include the entire mail.
- Another one of those things that drives me to distraction is overly long signatures. I have a friend whose email signature is a whooping 9½” inches long (I was prompted to measure it’s awesomeness when writing this. That’s 16 paragraphs, 58 lines, 408 words and a total of 2,832 characters) – imagine receiving that on your cell phone.
It really isn’t necessary. If you must have all that legalese, I’d recommend that you put it in with your terms and conditions on your website and link to that from your email signature. I’d prefer to suggest that you stick it straight in the bin. The trouble is, I think my friend believes it makes his emails look knowledgeable and professional. It doesn’t, please don’t do it.
Have you got any email tips or peeves to share?
Lifehacker: Your Emails Are Too Long: Here’s How to Fix Them.