The effective eMail Communicator has those four characteristics:
- knows the audience
- is literate
- respects integrity
- manages dependency
Categories of email:
- Regular email: email that deals with everyday topics and questions
- Instructional email: email that is specific about telling the stakeholder what they must do or what is expected of them
- Crisis email: email that is looking to solve a problem or alert the stakeholder to a potential problem
- Legal email: email that explains a legal position or the meaning of a legal cause
- Dissatisfied email: stakeholder who are not satisfied by the quality of the response or the service provided.
- Subject line, that is relevant, determines if the receiver is going to open your message and how quickly (ideal length between 35 and 50 characters). Use a subject line formula (e.g. Status-Topic-Action-Date) and change subject line when the subject has changed.
- Layout: break-up the email with sub-headings as they support scanning and suggest that there is a structure to the email. Keep the font consistent, unless you want to create a visual unsettling. Use bullet points preferably with numbers. Put important words or phrases in bold so they stand out clearly. Avoid: Italics, they are difficult to read; underlining, as it is associated with hyper texting;
- Tone and style. Tone is about the mood, it reflects emotion and feeling, the receiver evaluates the value of what you write. Style is the way you write, it is reflected in the linguistic way you construct sentences and use words.
|Formal and respectful||Avoids informal words and expressions in favour of more formal ones|
|Polite and courteous||Acknowledges how the receiver feels and, when appropriate, will use language that reassures|
|Relaxed and conversational||Uses informal words and avoids unnecessary words or phrasing|
|In control (of the situation)||Uses short sentences and writes with purpose|
|Informative and helpful||Gives clear and concise information that is easy to follow and understand|
- Readability: it means the quality of written language that makes it easy to read and understand. Influencing factors are:
- The length of a sentence
- The number of syllables in a word
- Strange words
- Complex phrasing.
There are many formulas that test readability: visit www.readabilityformulas.com
5. Plain language:
- Write short sentences, ideally 15-20 words. Otherwise you can:
- Use more full stops
- Restart with connectors (however, so, but,…)
- Say less by avoiding repetition
- Use bullet points. Use a numbered list when you write about a certain number of issues to be discussed. Put a full stop on the final bullet point, as you are ending the sentence. They work best in odd numbers (3,5,7)
- Favour the active voice. It’s clearer and more direct. It puts the action at the beginning of the sentence
- Use simple words. Don’t be afraid of using simple words, readers are in a hurry for clarity and concision.
|Sounding Words||Plain Words|
|As a consequence of||because|
|Despite the fact that||Although, despite|
|Due to the fact that, in view of the fact that||As, because|
|If this is the case||If so|
|Necessitate||Need, have to require|
|The law provides that||The law says|
|With reference to||About, concerning|
Remember: it’s about speed – the most amount of information using the least number of words.
- Tribal words: they are words that belong to a group of people or a sector or a whole organisation. If used correctly, they create a sense of belonging, if not they are exclusive because they become a jargon.
- To better structure your information, you can use the questions as sub-headings to enhance scanning (the way most people read nowadays). Make a list of 5 to 7 questions about the topic, and then provide short, concise answers to them.
- The inverted pyramid
- Important information at the top
- Then answer to: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY (how)
- Adhere to 80:20 rule.
Traditional is: the problem, statement or observation followed by a discussion of options, theories or methods. It ends with a result and a conclusion.
Email approach: start with the information that is more important to the reader (confirmation of request or objective). Then follow it with supporting information and end with background details.
- It is used for online publishing.
- Each sentence is a paragraph.
- There is an increase of scrolling but readers have no problem with it.
- It’s good for a lot of news and factual information.
- Chunking makes the text less tiring on the eye when reading.