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Effective email communication
•Effective Email CommunicationTopic
•One HourPlanned Duration
•Test Audience knowledge about the topic
•Brief history of Email
•Email Communications - Etiquette
•Topic in detail
What does Email mean ?
What does effective mean ?
Email; Formal or Informal
When should we write Email
Email – as a Noun
• (computer science) a system of world-wide
electronic communication in which a
computer user can compose a message at
one terminal that is generated at the
recipient's terminal when he logs in
Email – as a verb
• communicate electronically on the computer
Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing
the intended or expected result:
effective teaching methods.
In operation or in force; functioning; operative:
The law becomes effective at midnight.
Producing a deep or vivid impression; striking:
an effective photograph.
If the communication will require a lot of back-
and-forth discussion or if the subject is delicate or
sensitive you should call or speak with the person
If a discussion is becoming emotionally charged,
stop exchanging emails.
Speak to the person directly to clear up any
If the subject line does not match the content of
email thread. Stop sending/forwarding
In 1975 John Vital developed some software to organize email. By
1976 email had really taken off, and commercial packages began to
appear. Within a couple of years, 75% of all ARPANET traffic was email.
Tomlinson worked for Bolt Beranek and Newman as an ARPANET
contractor. He picked the @ symbol from the computer keyboard to
denote sending messages from one computer to another.
Ray Tomlinson is credited with inventing email in 1972
Probably the first email system of this type was MAILBOX, used at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1965. Another early
program to send messages on the same computer was called
Email is much older than Arpanet or the Internet. It was never
invented; it evolved from very simple beginnings.
1. Vague or nonexistent subject line.
2. Changing the topic without changing the subject.
3. Including multiple subjects in one note.
4. Sending before thinking.
5. Inadvertent replying to all.
6. Omitting the context of a reply.
7. Shooting the messenger.
8. Misaddressed recipients.
9. Displaying addresses of recipients who are strangers
to each other.
10. Replying vs. forwarding.
Consider all Email communication to be
◦ The Recipient may not be able to decipher tone of
◦ Avoid using too many abbreviations, acronyms.
◦ Don‘t use very bright colors
◦ Don‘t highlight or underline unless it is really
DON‘T SHOUT IN CAPITALS
Send your message to the right person.
◦ To = Main recipient, who will take action
◦ CC = Other people who should be informed
◦ BC = Silent observers
When assigning a task in an e-mail, be clear
about which recipient is responsible for
completing the task.
Enter the addressee last
Avoid sending an incomplete message.
An Effective Subject line contains
◦ Critical information
Use Smart Subject Lines
All messages should have clear and specific
―Subject Lines‖ that
− describe the message content
− specify if there are any AR‘s & due dates
− are clear who the message is for
Subject Line Template:
TAG description [action] [due dates] [(EOM)]
Use Smart Subject Lines, cont…
− Good Subject Line Examples
− FYI ONLY: Meeting minutes from 3/14 discussion
− WSR: Joe Smith – Operations WW17
− ARs Included: Minutes from MRC, all ARs due Friday 4/1
− DISTRIBUTE: Program POR updated & related information
− Bob, Joe: need you at noon meeting Wed w/ your updates
− AGENDA: Staff meeting Thurs 3/12 10:00 Rm: HF4-123
− Mary: I will attend the WW FTF & present summary. (EOM)
Poor Subject Line Examples
− Weekly Minutes
− Here are the URLs
− Re: presentation
− (blank subject line)
− Unrelated subject line – sending an email with an old subject line that does not
relate to this message
TAG description [action] [due dates] [(EOM)]
Use Smart Subject Lines, cont…
If you can type your entire message in the subject
line and don‘t need to write anything in the
body of the message - do so!
Type (EOM) at the end of the subject line to tell
your recipient there is no message in the body
of the email. EOM means ―end of message‖
Bob, are you going to lunch Friday? (EOM)
I agree with Dan’s contract proposals and will sign them today (EOM)
Jeff, Kim: schedule meeting with me to discuss deployment (EOM)
HP CONFIDENTIAL 18
collected from various group implementations
Subject Line Tags - Required
− WSR- Weeklies
− MSR- Monthly
Other Recommended Subject Line Tags:
− URG- Stop everything, read me first
− HOT- Need immediate attention
− RSP- Need you to respond, either way
− MTG- New/modified meetings
− FWD- Forward to your respective group(s)
− HLP- Need information, assistance with a problem
− FYI- Just for your information
− ACT- Needs action
Re: Question about Smith paper (was: please help
Change subject lines when
Re: Re: Re: [Fwd: [Fwd: [hrfac] Reminder: Deadline
for Spring Semester Is Jan. 15]]
Remove extra email prefixes
Thanks for the help today! <eom>
Got your message <nm>
Today’s group meeting canceled <ssia>
<end of message>
<subject says it all>
Consider following while writing Email
• Is this truly the correct person to
• What is my goal?
• Should this conversation be held in
person or over the phone?
Use a polite and respectful greeting and
Use topic sentences
One topic per email
Provide important dates or references
Put each action or point on its own line
Write in standard professional English with
Capitalization and correct spelling.
Don‘t try to impress.
Avoid chat speak, e.g., CUL8R & emoticons,
Avoid long sentences
Use proper grammar & spelling.
In Replies try to answer all questions
―Pre-empt‖ Follow-up Questions
Don‘t request Delivery & Read receipts
Don‘t forward chain letter emails
Use paragraphs (5 sentences each)
Quote back selectively when replying to
◦ ―Yes, I agree.‖ is useless without context.
◦ Top quote vs. bottom quote – no consensus.
◦ Avoid ―Fisking,‖ replying line by line in an
For URL links use SNIPURL to shorten
long URLs or enclose in < >.
◦ Free service http://snipurl.com/
Identify yourself clearly to cold contacts.
◦ Hello, I am…The reason I am writing…
◦ Hello, so-in-so suggested I contact you…
◦ Apologize if you don‘t.
◦ Interim reply when too busy.
Don‘t shoot the messenger.
◦ Use sparingly.
◦ Cut and paste relevant parts of attachment into
text of Email.
◦ Use URL links instead.
◦ Upload attachments to website and cite URL.
◦ http://www.scribd.com/ is a free service.
◦ Recipients who do not know you may be
reluctant to open attachments or click URLs.
Post attachment first to avoid
―Oops, here‘s the attachment.‖
Trend is posting large attachments into
blogs followed by Email announcement.
◦ Gives people a chance to comment on
attachment without a series of ―Reply All‖
◦ Those interested can check comments or use
RSS feed to be notified.
Use an appropriate signature
Brief (4-5 lines)
provide all contact information
do not include pictures, quotes,
Include (if you want people to contact
◦ Your name
◦ Email address (especially on listservs)
Can be shortened for frequent
correspondents or placed in header of
If you must include a quote in signature
keep it short.
―This message is intended for…‖
◦ Clutters up Email.
◦ Often longer than message.
◦ Omit unless your company requires it.
Avoid vCards because some readers treat
them as attachments.
Think Before You Click
Don‘t automatically ―REPLY TO ALL‖.
− Do all the people on the original disty list really need
to see your reply, or just the originator of the message.
Take one last look at your distribution list – is this
email necessary for all recipients.
− Most people don‘t have time to read email that is not
important to their jobs.
Just because their name was on the original
distribution list for a discussion, doesn‘t mean
they need to continue in that email discussion.
− Once the email discussion goes beyond 2-3 replies
anyway, it‘s time to pick up the phone
Write For Action
In the first 1-3 lines of your email, specify what
this email is about.
− Does it include Actions Required
− Does it require a reply back by a certain date.
− What information is contained that the reader will find
necessary for their job.
A huge amount of time is wasted on email that is not clear.
If you want your email to generate action, then be clear
and up front about it!
Emails are permanent
Emails are searchable
All laws governing copyright,
defamation, discrimination and
other forms of written
communication also apply to email.
If a reply is not required, end your
message with ―(Reply Not
HP CONFIDENTIAL 35
Email is not the right communication tool when ―quick
response‖ is needed
− It‘s highly likely you will miss important deadlines
− Don‘t change meeting logistics a few hours before a meeting
and send email as the only notification.
− Don‘t request critical ARs that are due in a few hours and
expect the recipient to get it done.
− Send your presentation materials well in advance of a
Use email to convey non-sensitive or non-emotional
− You want to save time, not create situations where more
time-consuming explanations will be required.
− Email can NOT replace the effectiveness of a short, real-time
discussion with all the right participants.
− Ask yourself, will a phone call be more effective?
Forwarding stuff, e.g., chain letters
◦ Avoid; annoys most people.
◦ Check address list before forwarding a ‖Did
you see this?‖ - They may have received it.
◦ Use http://www.snopes.com/ to check urban
◦ If you must forward, strip out addresses and
use BCC to hide your address list.
◦ Avoid sending a snarky reply to a pissy Email.
◦ Wait 24 hours.
◦ Write, but don‘t send.
◦ Don‘t reply at all and let them wonder.
◦ Offer to speak by phone or in person; Email is
not a good tool for ―clearing the air.‖
Chill out (contd.)
◦ Leave no record of sensitive or emotional
◦ Never say in Email what you wouldn‘t say in
person or would not like to see in the press or
defend in court.
◦ Once you hit ―Send‖ you have lost control of the
You can never be certain that it was erased from
all locations. Think of all Email as Permanent.
Organize Email into folders.
◦ Use company file plan for in-house Email.
Keep a copy of all sent Email.
Review and clean out folders
◦ Good for rainy day or slow day at work.
◦ Comply with company retention schedule.
Don‘t print Email unless you need to
refer to it remotely.
1. Calvin Sun. ―10 common e-mail habits that
waste time and cause problems.‖ [Online] July
2. Author unknown. ―Effective Email – How to
communicate powerfully by email.‖ [Online]
Downloaded November 2007.
3. Ellen Dowling, PhD. ―10 Tips for Effective E-
mail.‖ [Online] Downloaded November 2007.
4. Gene Wicker, Jr. ―E-Mail Etiquette.‖ [Online]
5. Jessica Bauer and Dennis G. Jerz. ―Writing
Effective E-Mail: Top 10 Tips.‖ [Online] August
6. Guy Kawasaki. ―The Effective Emailer.‖ [Online]
7. Amit Agarwal. ―Never Forget To Include Email
Attachments.‖ [Online] April 2007.
8. Kirk Shinkle. ―Running an Office by Wiki and
E-Mail.‖ [Online] February 2008.
9. Brenda R. Sharton and Gregory J. Lyons. ―The
Risks of E-Mail Communication: A Guide to
Protecting Privileged Electronic
Communications.‖ [Online] September 2007.
10. Author unknown. ―The 25 Most Common
Mistakes in Email Security.‖ [Online]
Downloaded March 2008.
11. Author unknown. ―Email etiquette.‖ [Online]
Downloaded March 2008.
12. Jason Krause. ―Law Hacks: 101 tips, tricks and
tools to make you a more productive, less
stressed-out lawyer.‖ [Online] July 2007.
13. Jason Krause. ―Eek is for E-Mail: You can
manage the mess of messages—but first let
go of the paper.‖ [Online] May 2007.
14. David Beckman and David Hirsch. ―Thumb-
Thing Good: For road warriors: trailer-size
space in a finger-size ‗trunk‘.‖ [Online] May
15. Tony Bradley. ―Why You Should Encrypt Your
Email.‖ [Online] Downloaded March 2007.
16. ARMA Intl Standards Committee. ―Working
Collaboratively in an Electronic World.‖ 2007
(available for download from ARMA Bookstore)
17. ARMA Intl Pamphlet. ―What Do I Do with All
This e-Mail?‖ [Online sample] 2007
18. Author unknown. ―Citing Internet Resources.‖
[Online] Downloaded March 2007.