We're just using it wrong.

Slack exploded onto the scene declaring it would Kill ‘Company Email’ by 2026 and it seems it still has a long way to go as we sent more than 120 billion emails in 2018 alone. We all hate email, it's our never ending to do list and it's the thing that ruins your Sunday night and the last few days of your holiday as you start trying to clear the backlog.

However, I think email is great and we're just using it wrong. To try and help us all out I've come up with a few quick tips when you're emailing in the office that will make everyone happier.

Email is Long-Form

We all have access to tools like Slack, Teams for quick messages or questions but some people still choose to send an email with a single sentence in, or worse just the subject and no further copy.

Use the tools you have as they were designed - emails were designed to be long-form, messaging apps weren't. If you need to message or ask someone a quick question, pick up the phone or use one of the apps mentioned above, don't clog up someones inbox.

Provide detail

When sending an email to a colleague or organisation try to include as much detail as you can rather than sending a basic request that requires a response before anything can be actioned.

For example:

Hi,

I've been trying to upload images to this page: [URL] but when I try to submit it says "Error 101".

I was hoping you'd be able to help. If you need any further information please let me know.

Thanks,
Dan.

The more information you can provide within the initial email the less back and forth you'll have to partake in. By including links, screenshots where necessary, and a complete description of the issue you're having or the information you're looking for you can really speed up the process for both you and the recipient.

Get to the point

I've taken this from a Simon Sinek talk I watched a while ago. If you're asking someone to do something as a favour or to benefit you, leave the pleasantries until afterwards. You'll come across as more sincere and the recipient will quickly be able to establish what this email is about.

For example:

Afternoon John,

As you're aware, the deadline for Project X is quickly approaching. It would be greatly appreciated if you would be able to work a few hours extra alongside myself and the team this evening to make sure we clear the remaining issues?

I hope you had a great weekend.

Thanks,
Dan.

If it's big, don't attach it

Most of us are now using OneDrive or Google Drive, maybe even DropBox - if the attachment you wish to send is large drop it onto the cloud and send a link rather than attaching it to your email. If your company allows, you could even use WeTransfer to share large files via email, however this does require to share files outside of the company network.

Sending a link to a large file will free up space on your companies email server and keep everyones emails running quickly. This is especially true if you're sharing a large file with several people as there will X amount of duplicates of that file being sent across the network.

How long is a piece of string?

Please don't include a full email thread and just forward with 'see below' as your email. Sure, include the thread for reference, but if you want an answer to a question or to highlight a specific part of the thread - copy this into your email so the recipient can easily see it and understand what is required of them and not waste time trying to find what you're referencing.

Reply All?

I think these two tweets explain this point perfectly.


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Exactly what is says on the tin. I read this very early on in my worklife and it really influenced how I handle my emails - if you find yourself inundated with emails, give this book a try.

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