Thursday, October 6, 2016

Be an Email Hero!

In your daily life you probably receive tens if not hundreds of emails. But are you using email effectively as a communication method? Or are you the person whose email other people deep sigh after receiving? Does your personality and netiquette change when you're writing to donors? It should. Also remember over 80% of email is now read on mobile devices, is yours mobile friendly?

As many of you know, I'm a blunt, direct person, especially in my communications. Therefore, I have a few friends that will read an email and help me with "softening" language, having that second set of eyes really helps, especially when I'm frustrated. SO here are my rules of the road when it comes to email. As a person who receives hundreds a day, these tips and tricks will definitely help you get your email read and also responded to. Try a few of these today.

  • Keep it brief, any email over 5 sentences needs to be a conversation
  • Be specific in your subject line. "Help please" isn't as great as "Could you help with our recognition societies" If no reply is necessary you could incorporate FYI into your subject line or please respond
  • Spell correctly, especially the first name. Sounds simple right? My name is constantly misspelled even though you have to type it to send to my email address. Not only is it annoying, it's careless,  double check. 
  • Don't CC the world, does everyone on that list really need to see that email?
  • Understand that short responses are not rude, they're quick and allow some of us to plow through emails quickly and expediently. If you want a long response, it will take a while
  • I'm an inbox zero person, I handle email once then it's gone.
  • Please put what you'd like first in the email, the recipient shouldn't have to read through paragraphs to try to discern your request.
  • Use bullets and lists when possible it helps with readability.
  • Keep your font simple and classic. Sans serif is best and please no backgrounds or cats playing with yarn balls in your signature.
  • Speaking of signatures, keep them simple and embed images if you must. If they come through as attachments its annoying and unnecessary. Most of us have filters to block attachments. Te simpler the signature the better. Please don't include your signoff in your signature- it's awkward and looks weird, especially when you double up on them.
  • With attachments, send links to google drive, box, or dropbox rather than sending large attachments. I won't open large unknown attachments. You're killing people's data plans! 
  • Expect 48 hour turnaround time. Is it really that urgent if you haven't received a response in 24 hours? Is someone going to die? If not, chillax. Understand that what is urgent in your world may not be on someone else's desk
  • Use your out of office messages expertly and efficiently. Turn them off and on in time. Make them kind and warm, have some personality!
  • Don't write an email you will regret. Save it as a draft and come back to it when you are less frustrated and angry. Save yourself and the recipient.
  • Feel free to respond to someone and let them know you understand. A simple, "I've got it" or "on it" or something lets the person know that you have received their email and that you are working on it.
  • On the other hand, don't reply all to everyone on a large email to say "me too" or "thanks" - sigh.
  • Your email is a reflection of you and should demonstrate your personality. It's ok to use phrases you use in daily speech, it's not ok to use emoji and text abbreviations. Keep it professional, keep it personal and keep it with a personality.
  • Need something from someone? Try some softening phrases- "I was hoping" I was wondering" "Do you think we could"
  • Don't use ALL caps, if its so important, bold it. No one wants to be yelled at. We get it, it's important.
  • If you make a mistake, own it and explain it. It's going to happen, embrace the fail and apologize and move on. No one has your mistake framed and laminated in their office, and if they do, that's their problem.
  • Express gratitude, but please, no meaningful life quotes in your signature, etc. If I wanted a daily lesson, I'd read the skimm.
  • Have fun and improve! Enjoy writing to others and know that every interaction you have with someone is an opportunity to bring them joy.
 What are your email pet peeves? How do you handle emails that frustrate you? What is on your wishlist from your coworkers? Are your donor emails different from your coworkers? I'd love to hear your feedback and please add to the list or debate a point!