10 Tips for More Effective E-mails
Although e-mail is convenient and an effective way to communicate within a homeowners’ association, it’s not as straightforward as it seems. In fact, we are partially responsible for our own email overload. If we communicated more clearly and effectively, we would have fewer e-mails to read. Below are 10 tips for effective email communications. Here’s how to write emails that are more effective.
- Write clearly and be specific! Keeping e-mails short and to the point helps the reader. People don’t like to read long messages, so a short e-mail minimizes the reader deleting before reading.
- Clarify the e-mail topic in the subject line. Most people receive a lot of email, and they scan the subjects to determine which ones to read. Include directions in the subject line such as “response needed by Monday”.
- Use bullets or numbers for list. When readers open an email that’s just a few lines, they often scan the contents. Using bullets or numbers for lists is a good way to make it easier to read at a glance.
- Include one topic per email. When you include multiple topics in an email, you decrease the chances of response and/or that it will be read. Stick with the most important questions when emailing in your HOA.
- CC only those people with a need to know. It’s tempting to choose “Reply All” on a group email, but think before you respond. Does everyone need to know? If not, help reduce e-mail clutter for others by selecting the people you CC instead of automatically pressing “Reply All”.
- Check spelling and grammar. The meaning of a sentence can be lost as you insert and delete words. Interruptions can also add to strange wording. Take time to read your email before you send it to make sure it conveys what you intend.
- Be careful with graphics. Everyone doesn’t have graphics turned on for e-mail, so they may not see information if it is only in a graphic. In addition, graphics take a lot of space. Sometimes you need to email an image, but think about your recipient(s) before you include graphics.
- Add contact information in your signature. When someone wants to discuss a point you covered in the email, it can be frustrating to have to search for contact information. Make it easy for readers to reach you.
- Beware of attachments. There are many different software versions available. If you need to send an attachment in an e-mail, make sure it is something the recipient can open. PDFs and website links are two great tools to use when communicating with a group.
- E-mail is not for all communications. While e-mail is a great tool, it isn’t an effective communication method when your message is long, emotional, or confidential. E-mail is not private. Years from now, it can have the “gotcha” effect in litigation. Pick up the phone or schedule a meeting when email won’t be effective.