The Coach's Corner

Why Don’t They Read My Email?

September 18th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 4 Comments
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

This is a common complaint I hear from senior executives. Over the years, I’ve received well-written communications (I will use this label to include emails, memos, texts, tweets, letters and all other written messages), as well as poorly composed ones. I notice that I always read the good ones and often skip the others. Here are a few tips I’ve accumulated over the years to help improve readership:

  1. First of all, why am I sending this communication? Should I? Often, I decide not to send the message after all.
  2. Pace your communications — or, maybe I should say, limit your communications. Avoid the “another email from Tom” reaction.
  3. Would I read my own communication?
  4. Make sure the subject line or the opening sentence is intriguing and/or catchy.
  5. Be brief, and be succinct. So many people seem to think longer is better, but that’s not the case. It often takes more time to be precise, but your readership will go up.
  6. Use bullets, headings and a lot of white space, so readers can scan the material more easily.
  7. Re-read your draft communication multiple times, to make sure it’s clear.
  8. Create an environment where your readers get something. Give them a tip, or some nugget of information that will help them be more successful.
  9. If you’re asking a question, make sure the reader(s) know you’re looking for a response.
  10. When appropriate, slip in a little humor (this is tricky; using sarcasm and/or referring to inside jokes can backfire and go horribly wrong).
  11. Assume your communication may be forwarded. I always ask the question, “What if my communication ended up in The Wall Street Journal?”

Hopefully, these suggestions will improve your readership. As you know, we’re all being bombarded with so many communications on a myriad of devices — and much of it is, indeed, junk mail. When your name appears, you want your readers to give your message priority status. I believe they will if you invest the time before hitting “send.”

4 Responses

  1. Tom

    Great email. #11 Make the first line and subject line intriguing. When I receive an internal email and the subject nor the first line that I see in my Outlook are intriguing I don’t even open it. From a client or referral source that is a different story, I will read those.

  2. Tom Doescher says:

    Thanks Scott. Great idea. I am going to see if I can add now. Thanks also for your encouraging words, notes from time to time. Miss you guys.

  3. Tom Doescher says:

    I added #4. Thanks again.

  4. Tom Doescher says:

    I added #4. Is that like back dating a check? Thanks again.

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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