Email is an ideal way to communicate details, such as meeting minutes, action lists, project updates, instructions, reference data, decisions, event info, checklists and much more. Sending previously prepared information is a snap – just attach, or copy and paste.
When I started specializing in enewsletters, I quickly discovered that there are a lot of details to discuss and make decisions about. Some clients like communicating by phone and others by email. But for some of this detailed communication, email is definitely the best method regardless of preference. It allows me to standardize the process, provide checklists, track action items, explain complex ideas, show examples, and document decisions.
Here are some tips for communicating detailed information by email:
- Strive for clarity. Be brief, but not to the point of leaving out relevant information.
- Use point-form numbered or bullet lists. This makes it easy for your reader to mentally check things off, or to use a pen on printed copy.
- Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Unless your goal is to impress with your writing skill, use the K-I-S-S principle.
- Provide links to background information or past communications instead of adding unnecessary bulk to your key message.
- Anticipate questions. Review your message from the perspective of your reader. Are you raising more questions than you’re answering? Head off questions by answering them now.
- Pay for each word. This is one of the best writing/editing tips I’ve ever learned – thanks to Neil Everton at Podium Media & Communications Coaching. Every word you can leave out enhances the impact of what’s left – click here to learn how to apply this tip.
- Proof, proof, proof – three times. If it’s important, and you can’t get another set of eyes on it, don’t slack off here. Try proofing a printed copy, reading out loud, and allowing a time gap to improve your results.
Now, before you start tapping away on your keyboard, make sure it’s necessary. I’ve spent time composing detailed emails when I’ve misunderstood a question or made an assumption (yes, more than once), resulting in wasted time and confusion. The lesson is… if you have doubts, pick up the phone and check. Mary Jane Copps, The Phone Lady, wrote about just this in her article When You Say “Hmmm”.