Writing Email
Illustration by Neil Webb

Writing Email

with Judy Steiner-Williams
lynda.com's PMI® Program
This course qualifies for 1.00 PDUs towards maintaining PMI® certification. Learn More

Video: Understanding your message's impact


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Watch the Online Video Course Writing Email
1h 13m Appropriate for all Apr 01, 2014

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Discover the secrets to writing powerful emails your colleagues will read and answer by crafting your message and delivery. In this short course, author and business writing professor Judy Steiner-Williams shows you how to write emails for maximum readability and impact. Discover how to craft a compelling opening, how to message the right people at the right time, and how to leverage etiquette to use email as one of many communications tools.

This course qualifies for 1 Category A professional development unit (PDU) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.

Topics include:
  • Using email as a communication tool
  • Understanding the right time and the right tone to strike
  • Crafting strong subject lines and messages
  • Respecting confidentiality
  • Copying and bcc'ing
  • Including attachments

  • The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
Judy Steiner-Williams

Understanding your message's impact

Impact. The effect or impression of one thing on another. The power of making a strong immediate impression. That's the dictionary definition of impact. Let's apply that to email. What is the effect or impression of your email message on its recipient? Your recipient will have a strong immediate impression, but will it be a strong positive or a strong negative one? Emails are a constant part of our workday. Numerous people are always sending messages that require responses.

Others are sending you FYI messages or forwards that they may feel you need to stay informed. Or you may need to originate a message to a customer lead, someone you haven't met. If we go on autopilot and thoughtlessly originate our reply to email messages, we may find those messages making a negative impact on our coworkers, on management, and on clients. And of course, ultimately causing a negative impact on you, the sender. Email writers have to be conscious of the message's impact, including what is said, how it's said, and even who receives it.

The recipient's impression of you, and maybe even your entire company could be based on that one email message. You want that impression, that impact to be a strong, positive one. Various factors contribute to the impact of that email message. Is the email message necessary? Sending unnecessary messages has a negative impact. Often overheard is, why didn't Mary just come to my desk or call to talk about my performance? Am I not worth a couple minutes of her time? On the other hand, a message that saves time has a positive impact.

An email message that next month's meeting time has been changed or the heating system is being repaired gives the recipient necessary information quickly. Is a series of email messages necessary? Again, sending unwanted and unneeded messages will result in a negative impact. What will be the impact of sending one message with summary minutes of today's meeting? The recipient is grateful to have only one clear concise message to read and save. Does the company or work team have agreed upon email standards and procedures? Not having these can result in unclear messages, frustrations and even hurt feelings.

Receiving reply all messages can take computer space and time. Frequently, as these back to back responses occur, the original subject line is no longer valid. Not taking the time to keep the subject line relevent as the content changes will negatively impact the response to that message. Who should be copied on messages? What is the policy on Bcc's? Can employees opt out on being included in some loops and if so, how? Having clearly identify standards in procedures for email messages will result in a positive impact.

Has the email message been planned around the who, what, when, where, why and how questions? If so, the reader will know because the subject line in the first paragraph identified the message's purpose. That email will have a strong, positive impact on its recipient. Were time and effort given to creating a clear email message? A hastily crafted email is always obvious, and the result has a negative impact. Taking time to plan and proof read and revise that email, perhaps even preparing it in a Word document first, has a positive effect.

The ideas are developed clearly and have the necessary support. That email message has a lot of power. It has the power to create an impression of the writer and the power to impact what that recipient will do. So always take the time to prepare a positive, impactful email message.

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