Email communication theory is largely different from email communication reality. If messages include phishy email characteristics they can be skipped over and miss their intended audience. Plus, they cause concern for the reader who, instead of focusing on the message, focuses on the validity of the email.
Additionally, if emails are hastily written, include too much information (or don't include enough) they can be dismissed by the reader. A balance has to be struck and unfortunately, it's an art, not a science. To help senders with this process, ISO has assembled some best practices to assist the IT community in sending emails. These guidelines are especially important if the communication is requesting an action to be performed.
1. Ask the 5 W's
- What is the meaning of the message?
- Does the reader need to take action? If it is informational, what do they need to know?
- Who is the audience?
- Who will be impacted? Wide-sweeping communications cause people to ignore future messages.
- Where is the change happening?
- Is it a service? A platform? A website? A physical location?
- When is the change occurring?
- Is there a deadline the reader needs to know about?
- Why should they care?
- How will this impact them? Will service be down and they need to make plans? Will this make work easier?
- And always HOW.
- How will the reader get more information? Who can they contact for questions? Always include a website, phone number, or email address.
2. Be Succinct
Be concise, but not so much so that understanding is sacrificed for word count.
3. Provide Structure
Break up long sentences into paragraphs. Create headings for longer sections. Use bold font and bullet points to call out important items. If multiple communications are needed on a subject try to keep them consistent in layout. Check out the example below.
4. Spell Check
Mistakes will be made, but (unfortunately) so will judgments. Be sure to go over the email for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Poor attention to detail in the email may negatively influence the reader's perception of the service, team, or product.