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Thank you for my life-transforming emails

Thank you for my life-transforming emails

Thank you for my life-transforming emails

A special thank you, and particularly to whoever shared initially this sad list of conclusions arising from the unbelievably stupid emails we receive throughout the year…

At this time of year, I want to thank all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me your chain letters over the past 12 months. [Read more…]

7 ways to write non-sales emails that get results NOW

HTWB lightbulbDo you sometimes get frustrated because people don’t read your ordinary, day-to-day work emails properly, or don’t even open them until it’s too late? Only act on the first topic in the mail and ignore the following three? Send you the wrong information, not what you need?

Recipients of this type of email know you, and know perfectly well that you’re not trying to sell them the latest type of flexible garden hose or rejuvenating makeup.

Put simply, they’re just suffering from “information overload,” wading through “info-sludge,” and can’t cope with day-to-day business/community emails that ask them to remember a meeting time and tie their shoelaces at the same time.

And now that most of us read and write emails via our dinky smartphones, tablets and other less-than-verbose media, the problems have been compounded: shorter text displays, even shorter attention spans.

So how do you get their attention – and action?

Some would say to phone them and ask them to check their emails – again, if necessary – but this can have limited effects, especially if you only get through to their voicemail systems which they may well overlook or skip over too.

You could head your email with lots of exclamation marks. You could write the subject line all in caps, although that’s considered shouting, ergo rude. With anything but the blandest of statements in your subject line you could well be relegated to the spam folder whether it’s written in caps or ancient Greek.

The trick? Take your email communication policy right back to knickers-off basics

Believe me, I have learned this one the hard way.

There have been so many times when I sent a reasonably planned, detailed email to someone for whom I am working (or to someone who is a member of a committee to which I belong or of which I am Chair or yada, yada, whatever) … only to find that they react to the first sentence and then switch off.

End of. Rest of message vaporized. Does that ring a bell with you? I bet it does … it certainly rings bells with me and many, many other friends and colleagues of mine.

Here are some tips which usually work for me

1.Never hit “reply” without changing the subject line. So often in email communication you find yourself discussing the latest Daniel Craig movie when the subject line, which started out in perfect innocence, says “Have you seen this amazing new tanning spray?” That works with your friends, but won’t work with a busy executive who is scanning through his/her emails on a rainy Monday morning. If you want action from your email, change that subject line (see below).

2.Change the subject line to something that kicks butt. Obviously as this is not a sales email environment we’re talking here, you don’t need to agonize over how to put over an immediate benefit for the reader. Nonetheless, if your email is a 7th regurgitation of “FW … FW … FW … Our management meeting last Friday” it’s not going to get as much attention from recipients as it would were you to head it “Why my plan will make us hit our targets next quarter.” Use a new twist to an existing thread of emails to highlight your  perspective.

3.Only email about one issue at a time. I know you want to share 3, 4 or more issues with your colleagues because it saves time, but trust me (and here speaks the voice of painful experience) in email format they only absorb one  issue at a time. Don’t expect people – especially those who use smartphones and other, small devices – to read on through more than that. And so…

4.Set up a fresh email for each topic you need to share with them. This achieves two important goals: one, it flags up the most important issue you want the recipient to deal with and two, it means that the recipient will not need to worry about other issues that could crop up further on in your email. S/he will find it easy to focus on what you want them to.

7 ways to write non-sales emails that get results now

Keep your day-to-day work emails simple if
you want people to read and act on them

5.Use simple, no-sh*t, uncluttered language. No matter how august and intellectual your business or community interest might be, forget it in an email. Email is all about simplicity – getting things done without a fuss. Keep your language simple and go straight for what you want your recipient to do. Any long-windedness in emails tends to be ignored … and that’s no bad thing.

6.Keep the length right down. As I said above the reality is, people tend only to read the first few lines of an email before losing interest, and/or filing it “to read later” which of course they never do. If you keep your text short so it’s read “above the fold” (without the reader having to scroll down) you’ll find you get much better results.

7.At the end of your (very short) message, repeat what you want recipients to do. No matter how much you may feel you have emphasized what you want recipients of your message to do as a result of your email, whack the main point down again. It can’t hurt, and may just get you the more successful results you want.

Good luck!

More help to get your writing acted on NOW  (instant downloads)

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think your way to superbly successful sales writing

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

How to write bang-on business emails – that don’t bang on

With most business people receiving dozens, hundreds or even thousands of emails per day, yours had better get the picture over fast and well, or it may get ignored. Here are my key tips on how to do it effectively.

1.Remember email etiquette

Ten or fifteen years ago email etiquette was considered very important, but now that people’s time is so restricted the “rules” have relaxed somewhat. Still, keep the basics in mind. This is business communication, so include the same basic background information you would in a printed letter, which means company name and brief geographical address (you don’t need the floor or suite number!) telephone numbers and website URL. Many people also put their email address but I don’t see the point, as for the recipient to contact you back all they need to do is hit “reply…”

2.Get the salutation right

Not “Dear Ms Doe,” necessarily, as that seems old-fashioned, but something like “Hello Ms Doe” if you don’t know her and “Hello Mary” if you do. If you know the person very well, something like “Hi” or “Greetings” is good, too. Some people start their business emails just with the recipient’s name, e.g. “Suzan,” but I find that rather rude and high-handed, don’t you?

3.Make the subject line relevant

Whole articles and I imagine even books by now have been written about how to write subject lines that grab readers by the throat. However unless your email is cold-selling something (and if it is, are you sure it’s not spam?!) you don’t have to agonize over it for days. What’s important is to make sure your subject line summarizes or encapsulates the gist of your message in as few characters as possible, so the entire thought is visible when your recipient glances through their list. Avoid being abrupt or rude, though.

4.Watch your spelling, punctuation and grammar

A lot is being written these days about typos, poor spelling, punctuation and grammar potentially costing companies serious money in misunderstandings and lost credibility. If you haven’t got a spell checker in your email system write your message as a Word document first, make the corrections, then copy and paste it. Then proofread it anyway. You want to look professional, after all.

5.Leave the introduction to the end

Unlike in some business letters where you often write about the background to a topic in the first paragraph, with email you don’t have that luxury of time. Make your first sentence compelling, and write it as a fuller version of the subject line, summarizing what the email is about and what action is required. Background information can be included later in the email.

6.Keep it all very short and snappy

You’re starting with a very crisp, concise sentence and it’s a very good idea to stick with that style all the way through. Leave out all unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. Use action nouns and verbs. Strip your writing of all flowery language, jargon or other padding. Here’s an example of how to strip a short paragraph:

Version One: The object in question is made of light wood and contains a cylindrical core of carbon. It is necessary to sharpen the wood at one end of this instrument in order to create a conical point. In this respect it is possible to hold the object in the hand, and through the application of the correct amount of pressure the carbon point will convey an image upon a piece paper placed appropriately beneath it. At this moment in time it is not possible for me to demonstrate the action of this object as it would appear to have been temporarily mislaid.

Version Two: I’m talking about a pencil. It’s made of wood, with some carbon in it. If you sharpen one end you can write with it. I can’t show you how it works now because I’ve lost it.

7.Stick to one topic per message

People these days tend only to absorb what you say in the first few sentences of your email unless you really have grabbed them by the short hairs. Including two or more topics in your email is asking for number two to get bypassed because time and attention spans are very short. If you have more than one topic to discuss, ideally send individual emails, or say “3 things we need to decide about today” in the subject line followed immediately by a first line saying something like “Because of the board meeting tomorrow, we need to make final decisions on (topic A), (topic B) and (topic C) by close of play today. Here’s how those are looking now…”

8.Don’t lose your rag – ever

Never send and preferably don’t even try to write an email if you’re angry, upset, drunk, or otherwise not in total control. If you have a heated conversation with someone on the telephone you can sometimes fudge things over. But with emails, once you hit “send” whatever you’ve written is there, carved in tablets of stone, for as long as the recipient wants to glare at it. Conflict like this rarely is helpful in business…

9.Make it (visually) easy to read

Don’t cramp all the text together in tight single spacing – leave a bit of air and white space so it doesn’t look cluttered.  Cluttered text is uninviting to read and tends to turn off readers’ attention. Well spaced text with no more than two sentences per paragraph work best online.

10.Get the signoff right

Not with “Yours sincerely/truly/faithfully” which is a hangover from printed letter days and looks cheesy and old-fashioned, but something less formal like “best wishes,” “kind regards,” “all the best,” etc. “Warm regards” is a popular signoff at the moment but that doesn’t do it for me – it seems a bit wishy-washy and rather phony, but that’s just a personal view!

11.Don’t overdo the sig file

Some people send business emails with signature files of up to 10 lines of drivel including several links, product mentions, straplines etc. That just looks silly and will be ignored by readers. Keep your sig file short and don’t include more than one link. It’s much more powerful.

12.Leave the attachments out

Unless the recipient of your email knows you very well and/or is expecting an attached document from you, don’t attach anything without clearing it with them first. Virus checkers, firewalls and all that are pretty efficient these days but so are the spammers and cloners. Don’t take a chance that the recipient won’t trust your attachment and so will delete your message.

Make sure all your writing is bang-on:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English
“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

How to boost your nonfiction book with a PR campaign

Please welcome expert PR coach Laura Perkes of PR With Perkes – sharing her advice on the best ways to get publicity for a new nonfiction book. Over to Laura … 

Now that the hard work of writing the book is over it’s time for the fun to begin, to elevate your expertise and create a successful launch that will not only boost sales of your book but will inspire people to make the life-changing decisions to take them from stuck to unstuck.

As you know, words are incredibly powerful.

[Read more…]

How to shine online: 7 video presentation tips from an expert

With COVID-19 having sent us all scuttling from live interaction to our on-screen doppelgängers, please join me in welcoming back one of the UK’s leading presentation trainers – Dr Simon Raybould of Presentation Genius – to share his tips on how to come across well and as much like your real self as possible on the new, essential online video platforms. Here’s Simon…

“Do whatever you can to be seen to be a real person,” says Dr Simon Raybould of Presentation Genius 

Live presentations are out of the window right now. They might never come back. Given how bad most of them were that might not be totally a bad thing 😉 But moving to online presenting is more than just turning on the camera and microphone and then praying. [Read more…]

Swearing: would you open this book to find out more?

Please welcome once again my good friend and colleague Tsufit, from Toronto, whose emails are always interesting and this one, in particular, grabbed my attention. Swearwords are a hot topic in communications of all kinds today and Tsufit – as always – hits the nail right on the head…Sz.

Saw this book on display in a small local library. 

If you saw it on display in a library or a book store, would you open it?

cover illustration to promtoe book

Love it or hate it, one thing is for sure. [Read more…]