Personal assistants write hundreds of emails to their bosses every week and often correspond with clients on their manager’s behalf. If the goal of a message is to inspire someone to take action it’s important to focus on the psychology of the reader. Here are some tips for writing more effective emails.
Consider the circumstances It’s tempting to send your message as soon as you finish writing it, especially in today’s fast-paced world of instant communication. However, it’s always a good idea to think about when and where your boss will receive your email. If you’re informing your manager about an upcoming leave of absence, it’s not a good idea to send it on a Friday evening, or when he or she is returning from a stressful business trip.
Personalise messages If you’re writing an important email on behalf of your boss to multiple recipients, don’t send it to everybody at once with a generic header. This may save time, but it won’t grab a reader’s attention straight away. You should also use key words in your subject line to avoid being overlooked in a crowded inbox.
Think about your readers You’ll no doubt know the majority of your audience on some level and will understand their needs. Keep in mind those you don’t know, the so-called “mystery readers” so you can structure an email that gives all of the important details and can be understood by anybody, even if they were inadvertently forwarded the message. Be sure to make it timeless where possible so colleagues can refer to it in the future and understand its original context.
Give options for responses You can never force your boss or a colleague to respond to your email, but you can make it easier for them to decide to take action. Start by outlining exactly what you expect to achieve and give your readers a deadline for answers. Try coming up with default options where appropriate, such as: “If I don’t hear from you by Monday, I’ll assume you agree with me.”
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