Emails are a large part of our day. Working as an IT professional will most likely mean you’re working with a computer for most of the day. Emails can be useful, but they can also be abused and be a distraction to being productive. Before sending an email, there are a few things you should consider.
Does The Email Need To Be Sent?
The first thing I think we should consider is if the email needs to be sent in the first place. A lot of time at work is spent reading and writing emails that aren’t all that useful. The fact is that email is just one of the communication methods that we can use when dealing with others. It has its advantages, but there are some downsides as well.
Email is good if you need something written down or if action needs to be taken. A lot of the time, however, it’s overused. Emails are too long, they don’t have a point, and they are sent to too many people. Before you send the email, consider if there’s a better way of getting the information across.
Could you call the person who you’re emailing to discuss it? Often a 15-minute discussion is more beneficial (and more efficient) than several back-and-forth emails. Are they in the same office as you? Can you walk over and see them? Both calling and an in-person conversation can be better suited than emails in many situations.
Is The Email Too Long?
IT professionals tend to be very detail-focused. We want to list all of the details, the explanation, the reasoning and research. We think this will help. In reality, it probably makes things worse.
Emails are often much longer than they need to be. Remember that other people need to read this. The email should have a point, and it should be kept short. A few sentences is all you should need to get your point across. Any longer than that, and another communication method should be used. If it needs to contain detailed information, create a separate file and put a description in the email (and provide the file to them separately). Don’t make the email too long. You’ll get fewer responses and nobody likes to read long emails.
Is There A Better Way To Send Attachments?
If you’re sending attachments via email, there are a few things to consider. Size is one concern. Emails with attachments can quickly add up and they can really bulk up the size of your inbox. Sure, storage is pretty cheap these days, but some companies impose size limits on their mailboxes. This means you should be more considerate of large emails or emails with attachments.
Versioning is another concern. Sending files via email can result it many copies of the file being available in many places. If it’s something that more than one person is working on, this can spiral out of control quite quickly. A better place to store this would be on a document management system (such as SharePoint). Many other systems have been created purely for this purpose. This way, there is one version of the document, which also keeps revision and change history. It also keeps your mailbox smaller!
What Is The Point Of The Email?
Before sending the email, you should step back and answer this question: what is the point of this email? What is it’s purpose? Are you summarising a discussion, reporting progress, or asking for action? Being able to answer this will allow you to create a more effective email when you actually write it.
Too many emails get lost on this point, and don’t actually have a purpose. If it doesn’t have a purpose, it’s not an effective email, and your audience won’t get what they need from it. If you’re asking for action but don’t actually make it clear, you won’t get the response you need as well.
Does It Have A Signature And Contact Details?
Email signatures are, in my opinion, one of the most important considerations for an email. It’s a bit of text at the bottom that has your name, title, and contact details. Before sending an email, check that you have one at the bottom. Does it contain all of the important details? Are people able to easily contact you using this information if they have questions or comments?
Using an email signature is a great way to get in contact with someone. Sure, some companies may have address books, but to use those, you often have to look up someone’s name and click a few times. If your details are in the email, people can just dial the number. This is also important in the future, if the email is older and someone has questions your details are still there and they can still contact you using those.
I think if you consider these five points before sending an email, you’ll find the emails you do send are more effective and get a better response from others. What other considerations do you have?