Software

E-mailing a group? Keep your message short and clear

The importance of creating an effective message is magnified when you send e-mail to a group, yet managers sometimes let carelessness or anger derail their global messages. TechRepublic members shared their tips for making sure group e-mail is on target.


If you’re sending an e-mail to a group of people, you need to put more effort into how you compose your message. E-mail to a group should be short, clear, to the point, and emotionless, according to TechRepublic members.

Many IT pros sent us their suggestions after reading a recent article, ”Are you practicing safe e-mail?” The author, Bob Artner, vice president of content at TechRepublic, recommended taking time to proofread a group mailing. Other tips Artner presented in his article included:
  • Read it out loud.
  • Communicate a single message.
  • Deliver bad news in person.
  • Have some empathy for your readers.

Variations of a theme
Readers of Artner’s column shared a number of tips and guidelines for composing and sending group e-mail.

Several agreed with Artner but expressed their views from a slightly different perspective. One of those was Feinstein, who took his own advice and wrote succinctly, “Very few people have the time to read and digest long e-mails. If you cannot condense your message into a few short points, it's probably too complicated for e-mail.”

SystemNanny had yet another take on communicating a single point: “Many managers don't seem to be able to communicate in simple, plain English. Instead, they fill their e-mail messages with bureaucratic gobbledygook, which often makes it difficult to sort out exactly what they're trying to say.” But don’t make the message so simple that it insults the intelligence of your audience, SystemNanny added.

Member Brian Lusk suggests cooling off when you are angry before committing your thoughts to an e-mail message. “If you are torqued off over anything, writing an e-mail in that state of mind will guarantee a poorly written document that doesn't say what you want.”

Take down this list
Several respondents created checklists for composing group e-mail. Here are a few of the lists we received:
  • Structure e-mail in a consistent form.
  • Add screen shots if it involves instructions requiring user input.
  • Learn from questions that come from users and incorporate answers of predictable questions in future instructions.
  • Use terms your users understand and use.
  • Give users just enough information to do the task requested of them.

—Mnewman


  • Have a good command of the language.
  • Open with a statement of purpose.
  • Close on a good note.

—Tony Impellitteri


  • Get your thought across clearly.
  • Ensure that e-mail doesn’t sound critical.
  • Keep emotions out of the message.

—Rstauss


  • Wait an hour; reevaluate if the message needs to be sent at all.
  • Check spelling and grammar.
  • Don’t use caps.
  • Don’t communicate employee work issues.
  • Never send a message out of anger. It just makes matters worse.

—Kcrader
What are you thinking about when you send an e-mail message to a group of people? How much time do you devote to it? Start a discussion below or send us a note.
If you’re sending an e-mail to a group of people, you need to put more effort into how you compose your message. E-mail to a group should be short, clear, to the point, and emotionless, according to TechRepublic members.

Many IT pros sent us their suggestions after reading a recent article, ”Are you practicing safe e-mail?” The author, Bob Artner, vice president of content at TechRepublic, recommended taking time to proofread a group mailing. Other tips Artner presented in his article included:
  • Read it out loud.
  • Communicate a single message.
  • Deliver bad news in person.
  • Have some empathy for your readers.

Variations of a theme
Readers of Artner’s column shared a number of tips and guidelines for composing and sending group e-mail.

Several agreed with Artner but expressed their views from a slightly different perspective. One of those was Feinstein, who took his own advice and wrote succinctly, “Very few people have the time to read and digest long e-mails. If you cannot condense your message into a few short points, it's probably too complicated for e-mail.”

SystemNanny had yet another take on communicating a single point: “Many managers don't seem to be able to communicate in simple, plain English. Instead, they fill their e-mail messages with bureaucratic gobbledygook, which often makes it difficult to sort out exactly what they're trying to say.” But don’t make the message so simple that it insults the intelligence of your audience, SystemNanny added.

Member Brian Lusk suggests cooling off when you are angry before committing your thoughts to an e-mail message. “If you are torqued off over anything, writing an e-mail in that state of mind will guarantee a poorly written document that doesn't say what you want.”

Take down this list
Several respondents created checklists for composing group e-mail. Here are a few of the lists we received:
  • Structure e-mail in a consistent form.
  • Add screen shots if it involves instructions requiring user input.
  • Learn from questions that come from users and incorporate answers of predictable questions in future instructions.
  • Use terms your users understand and use.
  • Give users just enough information to do the task requested of them.

—Mnewman


  • Have a good command of the language.
  • Open with a statement of purpose.
  • Close on a good note.

—Tony Impellitteri


  • Get your thought across clearly.
  • Ensure that e-mail doesn’t sound critical.
  • Keep emotions out of the message.

—Rstauss


  • Wait an hour; reevaluate if the message needs to be sent at all.
  • Check spelling and grammar.
  • Don’t use caps.
  • Don’t communicate employee work issues.
  • Never send a message out of anger. It just makes matters worse.

—Kcrader
What are you thinking about when you send an e-mail message to a group of people? How much time do you devote to it? Start a discussion below or send us a note.

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