I have a lot of trouble writing emails. I tend to worry so much about tone (am I being conversational or am I being too authoritative) and word choice. I get so swept up in these concerns that I can end up taking hours to write a simple two paragraph email.
Tone and words are important, and the amount of time spent on the email should be directly in line with the receiving end of that email. For example, if I’m writing an email to a prospective client, I want to be sure to provide plenty of value in my email, I want my tone to be conversational, but not too casual, and I want to clearly set expectations for next steps.
All this being said, no matter how important the communication is, it shouldn’t take hours to put it together. So, I’ve come up with some things that I use to help me slim down my email process:
1. Make an Outline. The outline should include who the email is going to, the basic topic of the email, the points I want to make, and the overall tone I wish to convey. It looks a little something like this:
Who: New Client #1 (CEO)
1. Steps involved
2. Account Plan Meeting purpose and time
3. What is needed from the client
4. What we will be doing
Tone: Friendly, but certain and somewhat directive
2. Set a Timer. If I’m writing an email to a client or a prospective client, I know it has a greater likelihood of taking me a long time. So, I set a timer for 10 minutes. The timer forces me to get my thoughts out and not to overthink each word and phrase before the thoughts are complete. I have a time limit, so I know I don’t have time to decide if the word glorious is better than the word stupendous. I have to keep moving through the communication.
3. Read Through It. Once I’ve completed the email, I then read it through twice to check for grammar issues and to ensure that I have hit all of the points I had intended to hit. I delete stuff if I go off topic.
4. Send It to a Team Member. If the email is really important, I send it to a team member to read, edit, and react to it. I also send the team member my outline. The things I want them to look for are:
1. Grammar and spelling
2. Word Choice
4. Did I hit all the things I wanted to hit
5. Finally, I send the email.
While this process may take more than 10 minutes, it still takes far less than the hours that emails had been taking me. Hope you find this method helpful, too.