It’s a problem, I know. Unlike a meeting, the campus mail, and a conversation, email is:
- Cluttered general reminders
- Filled with spam
- Cheap to deliver
- Void of human body language
And maybe a few more reasons that make it a difficult platform for leading a school.
But if you must communicate via email, and there are times you must, here are 8 ways to ensure your emails are actually opened and read.
1) Make Use of the Subject Line
This is the most important part of the email. Use it carefully and strategically. Here are some ideas:
- Create a few recurring starters that are used consistently and that communicate the purpose of the email. For example, you could use the starter, “MEETING:” in any subject line related to meeting notes or the starter, “MOTIVATION:” for emails that are more inspirational. I’ll share more on starters in an upcoming blog post.
- Keep the subject searchable and topic-driven.
- For dates and reminders, just use the subject line (with no body text). It’s less for you to write and one less email for your people to open.
In an email subject line, a recurring starter is a way to categorize emails and grab attention with a single word.
2) Avoid Essays, Keep the Email Short
Like this paragraph, get to the point, be cordial, and say something positive. Don’t pretend it’s a graduate paper. One paragraph is enough.
3) Write short paragraphs in Emails
Unlike your graduate work, email needs to be easy to read. Professors don’t understand this point (they write research, not best-selling books).
Use short paragraphs. Two to three sentences are the maximum.
It allows busy teachers to read it quickly. It forces you to stick to the point.
Now, weren’t those paragraphs easy to read?
4) Use short sentences in Email
This is not legal work. It’s not research.
Stick to well-written simple sentences. I know your English teachers are convinced that longer sentences are better – that they allow for deeper thought, but it’s not true; therefore, avoid complex sentences like this one because it really isn’t the way humans communicate, and it just muddies your point.
Keep them short.
5) One Email, One Point
Use the subject line to communicate the topic. Use the body of the email to give a paragraph or two on the topic.
Save the other topics for other emails.
Focused emails are easier to read. They strengthen your message. They’re easier to search for later.
Nothing’s worse than hiding important information or dates down in a long email that contains several unrelated topics.
6) Emails and Pictures Are Great
Don’t be afraid to embed a picture. Instead of writing a thousand words, use a picture when it helps.
7) Make Email Something People Want to Open
Keep emails positive. Use them for redundancy or for sharing great stuff from classrooms…like pictures.
Your staff will love opening and seeing their work and their students in the emails.
8) Leave HR type talk in the Office
If it’s important enough for an HR file, then it’s important enough for face time.
There’s an unintended negative side effect when email is used for corrective feedback, policy directives, and other HR-related talks. Frankly, it comes across as CYA – self-interest.
Instead, use email for email. Use paper for memos. Use calendars for dates and reminders. Leave HR conversations in the office.