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How to Nail Email

You’ve slaved over an email to a prickly customer or potential collaborator and you’re ready to hit the ‘go’ button. Before you do, review your words with this golden quad in mind.

1. What are you asking for?
Clearly ask for what you want. If it feels too direct early in a conversation, close with a clear request. Think about this. If you walk into a café and want a chicken sandwich, you’d say “I’d like a chicken sandwich, please.” But when we ask a contact for something, it’s easy to hide our actual request, “I’m wondering if you have any bread, but only if you have time, oh and a little smear of mayo if it’s no trouble, and if I make it very easy for you, would you mind terribly also adding some chicken in the middle there somewhere. At your earliest convenience.” What a waste of words. 

2. Only use words you need
Clear communication has cut through. When I write an email or any copy, custom magazine or content really, my first step is to re-read immediately and cut a third of what I wrote. In most cases, “that” is on the chopping block, followed by most of the words surrounding the actual request … see above!

3. Get your facts straight
Check names, dates and numbers are all correct. Spell check and re-read again just to be sure.

 4. Work on your sign off
Your sign off is the last thing a recipient reads before they make a decision on your request (assuming they even get to the end of your message). Make your sign off work harder. Have a short list of sign offs you use depending on the contact and the situation. “Best regards” works for most everyday situations, “Best” is just plain annoying (I think, “Best what?” every time), “Yours sincerely” harks back to letter writing days and “Cheers” is fine if you have a close working relationship.

Best regards, cheers, oh so sincerely,

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