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Remote Work Special: How to Ensure Busy Executives Read and Act on Your Business E-Mails

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The last month has witnessed some unprecedented changes. One of the biggest is how and where we work. Working remotely has become the new normal and a trend that looks set to continue into the year. One specific skill-set which will be needed is strong written communication skills. In the next few posts we will focus on this topic.

Executives are busy people. They are drowning in e-mails. Tim Cook (Apple CEO) says he handles 600-700. Richard Branson (Virgin Group) manages 400.  These are not weekly statistics but the number of e-mails these two executives handle every single day.

How can you ensure that your email, number 308, gets read or even acted on? Answer: Ensure that your aim or your “to do” is in your first or second sentence.

Simple tip? Most people structure their e-mails with background details first and then finish with a conclusion or the reason for writing somewhere near the end. (Please feel free to stop reading this and check some of your own emails which are longer than 50 words)

This makes sense because when we start by outlining background information we are following;

1. School Logic: Take a look at an old school science report. The structure will probably look something like this; title page, introduction, materials, procedures, results and then finally conclusion. Education teaches us to finish our reports and essays with the conclusion at the end.

2. Language & Cultural Patterns: If you are a Chinese speaker, you will notice that sentence structure patterns start with reasons first and then finish with the result.  More on this in our next article on “how culture affects our written communication”

Let’s now look at one typical example: Our printer server 501 was hanged this morning for 10 minutes. I checked the server status and found that the CPU was overloaded. And can i request CPU expansion to avoid the potential threat to the Asia printing service. Please find server status enclosed screenshot. Thanks

Notice how the “to do” or action (underlined) is written towards the end of the email (it is also hidden too).

Our printer server 501 was hanged this morning for 10 minutes. I checked the server status and found that the CPU was overloaded. And can i request CPU expansion to avoid the potential threat to the Asia printing service. Please find server status enclosed screenshot. Thanks

Imagine you are an executive reading 100 e-mails a day and open this instead:

I am writing to ask for CPU expansion to avoid the potential threat to the Asia printing service.

Notice how simple, clear & easy to understand it us. The reader knows exactly what the request is and what you want.

In summary, executives are very busy. Help them to help you. Ensure that your reason for writing, your “to do” or conclusion is at the very top of your e-mails.

The above tip is content from our online business writing skills program. This program is proven to reduce written communication problems, enhance productivity and ensure business writing gets acted on.

Click here to access Advance Digital to try and sample this product for free. Note: You will need to create your own account and password to see the free preview- will take less than 15 seconds.

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