Business e-mail is a Darwinian world. Although you may think you have a special relationship with each person you are writing to, you are in fact competing everyday with at least 50 to 150 other e-mails that each of your correspondents receives. As a result, only those e-mails survive that are fit to be read. If your e-mail is unclear or too detailed, your readers may misunderstand your message. Or, they may simply lose patience with what you have written and put their attention on another e-mail that is easier to understand.
What none of the countless books and articles on communicating effectively by e-mail ever tell you is that, more than any other factor, the structure of an e-mail, the logical sequence in which you present your ideas and information, will determine whether your e-mail gets the attention you want from your readers.
The assumption most people make is that e-mail is like a conversation. Just to keep up with an incessant deluge of e-mails, the tendency is to open a screen, write whatever comes into your head, and hit the Send button. Each e-mail is treated as if it were just the latest contribution to an oral back-and-forth, and a casual one at that. As a result, most e-mails ramble. And if they make a point at all, it’s usually at the end, when the author has finally figured out what he or she wants to say.
The basic structure for any e-mail looks like this:
Try it, and I bet you get better responses to your e-mails.
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