6 Tips for Writing Shorter Emails

Long emails are one of the biggest time wasters for people. Whether you’re sending a message to family, friends or colleagues, make sure your messages are short and sweet by following these steps:
-Use conversational language that makes it easy to respond while also being respectful;
-Keep your email focused on facts rather than opinions;
-Limit yourself to three action items in an email.

The “short emails examples” is a list of 6 tips for writing shorter emails. The six tips are: 1) use short sentences, 2) avoid the word “like,” 3) shorten your paragraphs, 4) don’t be too long-winded, 5) make it easy to read and understand, and 6) keep it concise.

We’ve all received emails that have sat in our inbox for weeks or even months, causing us guilt because we haven’t answered. Those emails are likely to be lengthy. Several paragraphs, several issues discussed, and numerous nonspecific queries such as “Thoughts?” We can’t seem to generate the motivation to engage them, so they sit, week after week.

While we generally think about this problem in terms of our own irritation at other people’s long messages, the shoe is, of course, on the other foot; people may be straining to react to your emails right now. It’s possible that you’ll be the one who gets overlooked.

Sending shorter, to-the-point messages that are purposely created to be simple to react to may help relieve the constraints of other people’s inboxes and increase your chances of receiving a fast, useful response to your emails. 

Here’s how to do it.

6 Ways to Make Your Emails Shorter

The techniques below can help you be a more successful communicator, whether you’re giving a pitch, making an introduction, or just emailing a colleague. 

1. Confirm that email is the appropriate channel.

We’ve all had that seemingly endless email exchange with hundreds of back-and-forth messages that takes up whole days and drains all of your work energy. When email conversations go this lengthy, it’s usually because the issue involves addressing a lot of subtle details, or there’s some misunderstanding or confusion that has to be cleared up. 

Pick up the phone if an email exchange is becoming too lengthy and annoying. In only a few minutes, you should be able to solve the issue and explain everything. 

If the situation is urgent, calling is also a smart alternative; you don’t want to wind up upset or frustrated because the receiver wasn’t constantly monitoring their mailbox. 

If an email becomes multi-paragraph long, with numerous layers of responses sought, it may be necessary to schedule a meeting so that you may work through difficulties in real time rather than writing long, drawn-out essays. 

Slack or chat are generally the best options if you know a colleague is available and you need a speedy answer on a non-urgent topic. 

You should send your email just once you’re certain that these other alternatives aren’t the best way to communicate.

2. Give yourself plenty of time.

We typically don’t put much thought into emails and wind up rambling on and on, which leads to their being lengthy. A clear, brief email may, ironically, take longer to compose than a large one. However, spending 10-15 minutes up front to ensure that your message is clear and concise (more on how to accomplish this below) can save you time in the long run and increase the likelihood of receiving a timely and relevant answer. 

If you’re having difficulties getting acclimated to this, write your email like you usually would, then take the time to cut it down to a core message with as little background/context as possible to get the point over. 

 

3. Write a compelling, informative subject line.

Your message will be more likely to be clicked on if it has a precise subject line that targets the recipient’s interests/needs. Formulating one also guarantees that you have a clear understanding of why you’re sending the email.

“Quick query about ____,” for example, is ideal. You may even leave the email’s content blank if it’s more of a to-do list item or reminder. (It’s preferable to keep the subject line blank, which makes rapid inbox scans ineffective; do your bit to assist folks in managing their inbox!) 

4. Limit yourself to 5-7 phrases.

The body of an email may be divided down into these segments, each of which should include no more than 1-2 sentences:

  • Introduction. Introduce yourself (if necessary) and/or the overarching theme/subject of your email in a few sentences. When I pitch someone for the Art of Manliness podcast, I start with two words explaining who I am and what the show is about (with a link). 
  • The reason for writing is as follows: Are you inquiring about a particular product? Is your pitch based on a yes or no response? Do you have any papers attached for review or comment? In the AoM podcast example above, I rapidly get to the point of expressing that we’d love to have this individual on the program and that our listeners would benefit much from their perspectives. 
  • Context. This is where you may add any necessary context or background information. This is where I share samples of previous guests who have been on the podcast as well as the amount of monthly listeners we have.
  • Close. All you need is a simple summary here: “I appreciate your time and thoughtfulness. I want to hear from you as soon as possible.” 

If it’s more than 5-7 sentences lengthy, there had better be a compelling explanation (usually an agenda or summary of something, which in most cases could actually be an attachment). If it does need to be longer, make a mention of it in the first few phrases. “This email is lengthy, but it is required in its entirety. I’ve added a numbered action item list at the bottom to make responding easy.” Break up the substance of your message into short bullet points to make it easier for the reader to navigate through it. 

5. Make the request and/or required answer extremely explicit.

The emails I despise the most are ones that ask ambiguous inquiries, putting the onus on me to figure out what kind of answer is required; the worst of these is something like: “We would love to collaborate in some way.” Thoughts?”

Ask questions that need a particular response – ideally, a simple yes/no response. “Would you be interested in collaborating by supporting this campaign?” “Is this a good time for a meeting?” “Do you believe this RFP’s phrasing correctly and firmly portrays our capacity to complete the project?”

6. Limit each email to one query or request.

Few things irritate me more than sending an email with many queries and only receiving a response to one of them. But, really, it’s all my fault! It’s difficult to keep track of all the signals that are bombarding people’s radar screens. You may choose from three options:  

 

  1. Send just one request/question per email, even if you have to send many to the same individual. 
  2. Send numerous questions, but number them, and write something strong in the subject line such, “Please send comments for all three questions.” 
  3. Instead, pick up the phone and ask those simple questions, and you’ll receive instant answers. 

Listen to our podcast with Joseph McCormack, author of Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less: Make a Bigger Impact by

 

 

 

The “keeping emails short” is a tip that can help you write shorter emails. Here are some tips for writing shorter emails.

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