Another very simple instrument is the subject line: use it to set expectations right. What can you find in this email? What are the recipients supposed to do with it? What´s the content of the mail? All these questions can be answered in a well-chosen subject line. Keep it short and precise, and set standard prefixes that help your audience to classify your mail e.g. when it´s not time critical. Here are some examples:
Info: Project XYZ – New Insights and Report charts // FYI: Sales Report 2018 // ACT or ACT urgent: New Legal Requirements 01.01.2019 // Friendly Reminder: Provide input for Customer Satisfaction Survey // Decision: Project XYZ – Budget Planning // Update: Project Status XYZ – Green
Finally, think through the design of your mail: put important information first to make sure that they are at least scanned, highlight necessary actions and put background information at the end. Stick to some simple rules:
- Subject line content
- Keep it short
- Keep the language simple
- Actions or decisions at the start
- Background information later
After all go with what works for you and keep it as simple as possible for yourself. At the end of the day you probably won´t change the email culture of your company, but you can work on influencing it in a way that is not only more efficient for you but also for your colleagues. Set a good example and go with rules that add a great contribution to the effectiveness of everyone.
Think about your communication strategically: what are your priorities? Who is your audience? What is your message? What is your expected action?