This excerpt of The Art of E-Mail Writing focuses on purposefulness in e-mailing. The Art of E-Mail Writing is a 110-page summary of best practices in writing e-mails and managing the e-mail system. It is available from First Books (www.FirstBooks.com).
CHAPTER 2: STATEMENT—GETTING TO THE POINT
Open the message with a clear purpose statement. Do not imply the purpose; state it explicitly. Today many of us write e-mails on the fly in our personal digital assistants (PDAs) during our taxi, bus, train, or plane commute. Or in elevators, restaurants, and coffee bars. Or seconds before or (perish the thought) during meetings. This relatively new method of communication brings a fresh meaning to the expression “you’re all thumbs”! Instead of it meaning that we’re clumsy, it now means that we navigate through our PDAs and write our message with two thumbs instead of ten fingers on the keyboard or one hand on a mouse. This innovation puts even greater pressure on us to get to the point immediately. The assumption is that we all operate in a 24-7 environment.
With this mindset driving us, we cannot waste time by starting with me-focused messages that create ambiguity, apathy, and aimlessness. We need to jumpstart the reader with a you-focused statement. Note the differences in the two drafts below. Which one captures your attention immediately?
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Coming Soon! The Art of E-Mail Writing by Philip Vassallo, also through First Books: http://www.firstbooks.com/.