Emails

My biggest pet peeve and probably the biggest foul in today’s age, is poor email etiquette. Beyond Twitter, Facebook, and your text message lingo, email is still a large part of our daily lives. For instance, have you ever received that poor crafted email with missing information, poor grammar, and lack of sender? I’ve seriously received emails like this in my college days where people don’t put a subject, and even their name at the end of the email assuming that I know who chunkylover874@email.com is. So stop being an email n00b and learn how to finally put together a well thought email. It’s a lot easier than you think and it’ll save you tons of time in the long run.




Subject Line

If you want to save people time and get more people at your meeting, start optimizing your subject line. Instead of putting the information of the meeting in the body of the email, place it in the subject line for quick viewing.

Example: Let’s say you want to have a meeting about updating the TPS documents for your club. You, the organizer, want to set the meeting at Starbucks at 3PM. Here’s how you send an effective message.

Subject: Meeting: 5/12/10 3PM @ Starbucks (on campus) about TPS Docs

The subject line above gives a wealth of information without having to open up the actual email. The recipient has all general information they need. So if you’re planning a club board meeting, your delinquent board members can at least figure out where your meeting is going to be. You know that not everyone reads or responds to their email, why not make it easier for those few. This way you’ll at least have a larger audience.

The Recipient Field

What’s CC mean?

It means carbon copy (or courtesy copy). When you send out an email, you might have a direct recipient in the “To” field, then a secondary person in the CC field. Usually the CC person is not the intended recipient, but someone that should know about the information and dialogue being passed around. For example, I always CC the president of the organization whenever I communicate with others in the club. This ensures that the president is aware of the same information that I am.

What’s BCC mean?

It stands for blind carbon copy. It’s a way to secretly share an email. It’s like being that guy across the street who’s watching you with a telescope. When you send the email, the intended recipient will NOT KNOW, that another person got the email. This is different from using the CC field, which lets the recipient know that someone else has obtained the email.

This field is useful for sending mass emails. For example, if you need to send a general meeting email, instead of dumping hundreds of emails in the “To” field, dump them in the BCC field. When you send this email out, no one will know who else was sent the email.  Why this is important? Simple, it prevents anyone from mass replying to the group. Sometimes you might have some bad recipients who can flood the entire recipient group with junk or foul messages. In addition, it’s your duty to preserve and keep the emails you’ve obtained as confidential as possible.

The Body

When you put an email together, make it simple and digestible. The last thing I want to read when I open up an email is a 15 line paragraph. Obviously this all depends on the setting. However, if you have to go through emails on a daily basis, seeing a bulky email is not one for the faint of heart (or the simple minded). I find myself beginning to read only to find out the sender wants to have a meeting at Starbucks at 5pm on Tuesday. Here’s an example:

Body Example – Don’t Do this

Hey dudes,

We need to set up for a conference. We’ve got a few days left and I wanted to touch base. How about we setup a meeting at Starbucks around 5pm on Tuesday? I think we still need to talk about speakers and food so make sure to come prepared. See you soon. Oh, why don’t we set it up for like next week, not this Tuesday, but the next one. Did you guys also get the email I sent last week about the new outline. Make sure to read that before you come to the meeting or we won’t have much to talk about. Also, whoever comes first, I’ll buy them a latte. So make sure to be there on time. See you later d00des.

Phil

The bad: The email, although appropriately long, is really difficult to decipher what the person wants. Imagine if the subject said “What’s Up” it would be even more confusing. Here’s a simple and effective way of breaking this email down.

Body Example – Do this

Hey everyone,

Meeting: Planning Committee

Date: Wednesday 5/12/2010

Time: 5:00pm

Location: Starbucks (on Campus)

Content: Hey guys, we’re meeting to finalize the details for the conference we’re putting together. Hit me up with an email or call me if you have any questions.  

Phil

The Good: The email is easy to read. All the information I need to know I can write down on my calendar in a minute.

Email Signatures

Have you ever gotten those emails from professionals and you notice that tag on the bottom. It usually shows their name, title, company, and phone number. This is usually easy to do for most people. You can even set it up in Gmail or programs like. Why do this? If you’re the type of person that has to send out emails on a frequent basis, where you contact info is important for most people to have, you might want to add this. This gives the receiver some quick info about who you are, Just in case you don’t mention it in the email.

Bad Example:

Dear John,

I want to inform you that we’re relocating your desk as of next week. You will be relocated on the second floor so you can best work with your team members.

Sally

The bad: If I’m John, I’m scratching my head trying to figure out who authorized this move and who Sally works for. For all John knows, Sally could be some coworker pulling a prank. As a result, John is going to have to send a return email asking who Sally is and who authorized the move. It’s a wasted email.

Good Example:

Dear John,

I want to inform you that your boss Steve has asked me to relocate you to the second floor on Monday. Steve feels that you’ll be able to work more efficiently with your team members on the second floor.

Sally Kay

Human Resources Director

Office 2010

Phone: 555-555-1234

The good: The email signature has important information. One, John knows who is aiding in this move and who actually authorized it. To him, it makes sense that Sally is sending this email out since she works in HR.

Closing Notes

Whenever I write an email that has over 10 recipients, I make great efforts in making sure I never have to send a second email. Trust me, if you’re sending emails out to 50+ people, and you forget to put some information, you’re going to get a lot of unnecessary replies. So take the time to prepare an email. Take advantage of the Save Draft feature. Here’s my tip. Write the email, and then save the draft. Wait about 30 minutes, and then come back to the email. Reread and double check it for errors. When you are confident you’ve included all the information you need. Hit send.