Communication Is Only As Good As The Response It Elicits
Great communicators dominate this world. From the President Of The United States to Silver Tongued Lawyers, communication takes leaders to the next level.
Unless your a prison inmate or living within a third world African Tribe, email correspondence is a major part of your daily life.
This post will succinctly reveal 15 tactics I use everyday to effectively communicate via email. I nearly always elicit the EXACT response I’m looking for. Using these tactics I manage hundreds of key relationships every week. BOTTOM LINE: These Email Response Tactics Work!!!!!!
To get started, compare the 2 email messages below. Both messages use the exact same words, but are structured in 2 different ways:
Thank you for the in-depth analysis. Please reply all RE the best time to hop on a call this Thursday.
It is now crystal clear that we have a few opportunities to make improvements that will systemically improve the retention on these DR campaigns. Billed on cancel: This reason is used when customers contact us while the charge is still in settlement or when the cancellation is processed on the rebill date. Generally, we offer a simple cancellation, however, if the issue progresses then we will work to refund the charge. We also will take into account the delivery date. If the customer fails to receive an actual 10 day trial, due to shipping issues, then we will work towards issuing a refund.Overcharged: This is the designated reason used for customers who failed to read or understand the terms and conditions on the payment page. Due to marketing practices and high price points, this type if issue is common in this space.
Jane Smith please send out a bridge for Thursday at John Doe’s convenience. They are on PST I believe.
Using the EXACT same words, notice the higher level of communication this email provides:
1. Thank you for the in-depth analysis.
2. Please reply all RE the best time to hop on a call this Thursday.
3. It is now crystal clear that we have a few opportunities to make improvements that will systemically improve the retention on these DR campaigns:
Billed on cancel: This reason is used when customers contact us while the charge is still in settlement or when the cancellation is processed on the rebill date. Generally, we offer a simple cancellation, however, if the issue progresses then we will work to refund the charge. We also will take into account the delivery date. If the customer fails to receive an actual 10 day trial, due to shipping issues, then we will work towards issuing a refund.
Overcharged: This is the designated reason used for customers who failed to read or understand the terms and conditions on the payment page. Due to marketing practices and high price points, this type if issue is common in this space.
Jane Smith – Please send out a bridge for Thursday at John Doe’s convenience. They are on PST I believe.
Notice the stark difference? The first email TAKES WORK to read. It required a higher level of focus and attention than the 2nd email.
Why’s that Rich?
Simply put: the first email categorically fails in structure, design, and clarity. It just plain old sucks!
If you write emails like this on a daily basis then I have good news for you. At the going price of $0.00 I am going to reveal 15 of my coveted email tactics that I’ve handpicked, stolen, and partially created on my own. Enjoy!!
1. Compelling Header That’s Concise
Less Is More. Do not create headers that are long-winded.
Emphasize your point and utilize sense of urgency tactics.
i.e. If your email is very important and urgent, then make sure as hell that your reader knows:
Subject: IMPORTANT: Respond By EOD
An email header like this will clearly garnish “inbox” attention.
Notice how the first word is capitalized? Capitalizing the first 1-2 words wins eyeball attention.
2. Number / Bullet Point Every Point You Make
The idea is to clearly point out every point. That way nothing is missed. i.e.
1. Always indent the numbered points when you are using numbers to mark each section.
2. Make bullet points consistent in structure. Do not use numbered points in 1 structural format and then revert to lettered points in the same type of format.
3. If you have any questions about this or need more guidance, read this article.
3. Highlight The Names Of The Parties
Often times in emails we need to emphasize different points to multiple recipients. On these types of emails it’s critical that everyone attached reads the main points and the comments specifically geared to them.
In order to effectively communicate points to each party, do the following:
- Use bold for the names of each recipient you address in the email.
- Keep the same color of bold for names.
- Highlight names if your entire email is written in bold.
4. Create Strong Call To Actions
Think about the exact response you want to elicit from the recipient. Do you want to receive an email back addressing a specific point? Is there something critical you need the receiver to do?
If so then make it strikingly apparent to the eyes:
Double the size of the font.
5. Limit Sentence Length to 12 Words or Less
The shorter the sentence, the easier the read. Keep sentences short. Period
6. Limit Paragraph Length to 3-4 sentences Max.
Break up your paragraphs into 3-4 sentences maximum. Large blocks of sentences are hard on the eyes.
7. Limit Email Length to 200 Words Max
Keep your email length to a minimum. If you need to go into a long diatribe, then do it through a scheduled call.
If you’re providing a manual or an in-depth analysis, then attach it as a file.
8. Avoid Unneccesary Pleasantries
While pleasantries are a must in many situations, keep them to a min. People will respect you more for respecting their time.
9. Create Professional Signatures
In your signature include multiple methods to contact you back.
In Outlook I have 2 sets of signatures:
Signature 1 provides my my full contact details: Cell phone, Direct Line, Fax, Secretary’s Line. This email is reserved for people that I want to easily contact me.
Signature 2 provides the number to my receptionist. I use this email signature when I don’t want people to have my contact info.
Both signatures have an air of professionalism.
10. Get Specific – DO NOT MINCE WORDS
This is BY FAR the most common area that people have a hard time with. Don’t feel afraid to REQUEST someone to do something. Don’t mince your words! Get direct and to the point.
Notice the stark difference in these 2 requests:
REQUEST 1: Hey how’s it going. I was thinking about how we need to start getting reports tigthened up around here. While the money sheet we have is pretty good, and it’s provided fantastic insight into our organization, I’m not so sure about whether it is working to the best of its ability. With that being said, I thought last night: “What are the other options we have for money sheets. What else can we do to improve? That’s when it came to me. We can turn it into a balance sheet! Now with that being said, I think we need to hire someone with an accounting background to help us acheive this goal.
REQUEST 2: Starting today, we are going to migrate from the money sheet to a balance sheet for daily reporting. Please execute the following by this Friday:
- Hire a new accounting assistant.
- Migrate the existing money sheet to a balance sheet format.
If for any reason you believe that you cannot execute this by Friday please notify my at least 1 business day ahead of time. Thank you and good luck!
The first email was timid and indirect. Anyone on the receiving end would have a difficult time understanding what exactly it is they’re supposed to do. Moreover, the items needed were not tasked out properly.
In diametric opposition, the second email lays it out very succinctly. The please and thank you pleasantries are thrown in to avoid sounding like a Tyrant. Objectives are clearly stated and a deadline is submitted.
11. Teach People How To Effectively Communicate With you
If someone is sending you emails in a format that is hard to read, point it out to them. You are doing them a favor by pointing out how their email style is negatively affecting communication.
Respetfully ask them to write the emails to you differently. Give examples. Heck – send them this post!
Chances are they they’ll appreciate the contructive criticism and make an effort at improving their communication with you.
12. Highlight and Bold Key Points
When you have a major point to make, MAKE SURE people don’t miss it. Highlight, bold, underscore, and increase the font of the point. The idea is to make sure people don’t miss your point.
MAKE SURE you don’t more than double the font size on these points. If the font you use is super magnified it will come across as you screaming and turn people off.
13. Use A Variety Of Colors To Segregate Areas
Colors change emotions.
Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the color blue make you feel calm and relaxed?
Read Color Psychology and Color Therapy by Faber Birren to learn more about how to use the right colors to heighten responses.
14. Eliminate Helping Verbs – Use Power Words
Be, Being, and Been are useless helping verbs. Helping verbs add clog up good copy and bore readers.
HELPING VERBS: I’m being tutored by a friend of mine who’s been through this class before.
POWER PHRASE: A friend of mine who took this class last year is tutoring me.
Use action verbs and power words. I recommend reading:
How To Use Power Phrases by Meryl Runion
A Grammar Book For You and I…Oops Me! by C. Edward Good.
15. Create Strict Deadlines
With every directive add a strict deadline. Emphasize the importance of the deadline. Advise your audience to notify you if the deadline isn’t possible to meet. Then require that they provide you with a more realistic deadline.
If you feel that they’re bullshitting you, ask for reasons.
Deadlines are a mandatory for action items.
How can you repay me for this POWERFUL knowledge? Really simple: Implement It In Your Life! There’s no greater reward than helping someone out when you can. If I were to get hit by a car tom. I would hope that I left this world a better place than when I arrived.