THINK BEFORE YOU WRITE
Some of the e-mail I get reads like someone's stream of consciousness, as if the writer just dumped whatever was in his or her head onto the computer screen. It would save me a lot of time and trouble if people would stop for a minute and think through what they want to say.
– JEFF ANGELL
SENIOR DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
E-mail is ideal for the kinds of quick messages that most of us send in response to questions, to pass along information, and to make requests. We use e-mail because it's quick and easy— more like leaving a phone message than writing. It doesn't seem to take the same kind of thinking and planning time as writing a hard-copy memo, a letter, or a report.
But e-mail is still writing. Even if you have only a simple message to convey, you'll get better results if you stop and think about why you're writing, what information you want to pass along, and what you want the recipient to do. Unplanned messages like the one below waste everybody's valuable time:
Maggie, you gave me a copy of an article a couple of weeks ago, when
we had lunch at Zeke's, you know, that day my car broke down and I
had to take the bus so I was late and you almost left? Can't remember
exactly what it was, something from the Times or maybe the Post, all I
remember is that it was one of our competitors talking about a new
product. Anyway, I told my manager about it and he was really inter-
ested, wanted to know what it said and I said I'd look for it, but then I
couldn't find it in my briefcase or anywhere. What I was wondering was
whether you'd mind faxing me a copy. Thanks a lot and I really enjoyed
our lunch. Let's do it again soon.