Posted by: johnocunningham | June 1, 2013

Best Blogs In May: E-mails That Get Results

This is my 9th post in a series of monthly features that I have dubbed “Best of My Blogroll.” The concept is simple – each month I peruse my own blogroll (see that column on the right) for material created by other bloggers that I think is most worthy of sharing with others, and then I report on it here.

For the month of May, I have chosen to highlight an elegantly simple post by Gerry Riskin on his “Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices” blog, which links comments upon and links to an excellent bit of advice from Geoffrey James at Inc. magazine.

In his piece entitled, “How to Write a Convincing E-mail,” James offers six simple rules for writing a concise and effective e-mail communication, including:

  • Knowing the decision or goal you have in mind;
  • Stating your request related to the decision or goal you have up front (starting with the conclusion);
  • Structuring your supportive statement into digestible chunks (think bullets);
  • Using evidence;
  • Repeating the conclusion as a “call to action;” and
  • Highlighting the benefit to the reader/client, etc. in the subject line to get attention.

These are all excellent points, and consistent with my experience in dealing with all kinds of people, but especially busy executives and decision-makers. They don’t have time to read long, rambling e-mails (or for that matter, long and rambling communications of any kind) and so they want to know the bottom-line up front, and they want to see supporting data summarized neatly and quickly. They also love a “headline” in the subject line that screams out what this e-mail is about so that they know how to prioritize and categorize it in their already cluttered cerebral space.

Sometimes, the most obvious and simple solutions are the most elegant and effective. That is how this bit of advice from Geoffrey James struck me. Thanks to Gerry Riskin for sharing it, and for his observation that lawyers are “not known for economy of language.” Very well put, Gerry, and something lawyers should work on correcting if they want to score points with business clients in the C-suites.


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