10 tips for effective email

For many, it’s still the preferred way to correspond; follow these guidelines so your missive does the job.

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1. Be specific. Most of us have way too many emails and too little time in the day to read and respond to them. Keeping them short and to the point will help maximize the chance that they are read (to the end of the message) and lessen the chance that the reader will press “delete” without reading it.

2. Promptly respond to important email. Responding within a day or two after an email is sent shows you care about the message and the sender. Even if you are not able to attend to something right away, telling the person when you will act on it shows professionalism and attentiveness.

3. Use a clear subject line. Because most of us receive a huge amount of email, we need an easy way to know whether to open an email, where to file it, and which ones need action. The subject line is a helpful tool for this.

4. Use clear wording in a subject line to signal urgency. Wording such as “response needed” or “urgent” conveys what is expected and by when, i.e., “Client contract—confirming dates—response needed,” or, “Board meeting—draft agenda—response needed by Friday.”

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