How to Get Your Emails Read and Answered

TIP 1: 

If you have multiple questions buried in long paragraphs in your emails, do you notice how people may answer one but not all of your questions?  To get better results, begin an email with, “I have three questions”, and then put your questions in a list with a big 1), 2), and 3) next them. You have a much better chance of getting answers to all your questions this way.

TIP 2: 

Better yet, send separate emails for separate questions/ topics.  It is perfectly fine to send someone two or three or four emails, rather than putting too much in one email.   

Use the subject line on these short emails to highlight what the email is about and the urgency (“Can I hear back by Thursday?”), and then in the email ask a concise question or request.   

Emails written this way are easy for people to respond to.  If, on the other hand, you put several questions in a longer email that the reader has to sort through, it’s more likely they’ll miss some of your questions or just put aside the email to figure it out later.

Here’s an example: I recently received an email from a friend with the subject line, “Address Change.”  I glanced at the email, saw it had her new address, and then printed the email to add to my database. This email was sitting in a pile on my desk, and a couple of weeks later I noticed that at the bottom of the email my friend had asked me to pick up her husband after foot surgery (she is vision-impaired and cannot drive). This is a great example of something that should be a separate email!  And the separate email should have the subject line, “Can you pick up Tom after surgery on August 20?” 

People are not reading our emails carefully from top to bottom; they’re just glancing at them. Highlight important information like urgency and topic in the subject line and the first line of the email. This gets your emails read and answered!  

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