In classes I taught yesterday and today, attendees shared their excellent suggestions for more efficient email. Try these:
- Be selective about Reply to All. Recognize that it is not all or nothing. You can delete some people’s names from Reply to All–those who don’t need to be continually updated or included.
- If you provide someone’s name as a contact, copy (Cc) or blindcopy (Bcc) the individual to be sure he or she is prepared–not blindsided by the contact.
- Avoid having to have the last word. It is enough for one person to say "I look forward to meeting you." Restrain yourself from adding a "Me too" or an "I look forward to meeting you too."
- If something is complex or sensitive, discuss it face to face or over the phone. Then follow up with a written summary of the discussion if you need one.
- When you assign work to people through email, write to them as "To" recipients. Do not assign work in a Cc. Cc means "for your information"–not "for your action."
- Avoid large (1MB or more) attachments, especially to large groups. They waste bandwidth.
- Engage readers from the beginning by using you in the first sentence of the message.
If you like these email guidelines, you may be interested in my 110 Tips for Sending Email That Gets Read–and Gets Results, available here as a 30-page booklet or a searchable PDF.