Appropriate Use of Email, Part Two

by Jo Anne Nelson on October 13, 2011

In my last post, I discussed how emails are often used in a way that compromises efficiency, effectiveness and mood. I gave you some simple email rules to follow to improve your communication and coordination. Now, let’s look at the actual writing.

What can you do to be a better writer? In his book, On Writing Well, William Zinsser teaches simple principles and methods for good writing. He contends that anyone can learn to write well. But first, they must accept that good writing requires work.

Here are three key lessons from the book that will help you write more effectively:

Writing well requires several rewrites.
Write it, read it, edit it. Read it again, edit it again. Repeat until you are satisfied that you have achieved lessons two and three below.

Clear writing begins with clear thinking.
Start writing only once you know what you are trying to say. Don’t figure it out while you are writing. Then, when you’re editing, ask yourself whether you’ve said it.

Remove clutter.
Use the simplest words you can to convey your meaning. Examples? “At this point in time”, “currently”, “presently” = now. Look for those components of writing that aren’t doing useful work and cut them out. The simpler it is, the better.

Now, you may be thinking “if I have to take all this into consideration just to write an email it’s probably not worth it.” Good thought! A few less emails seldom hurts and typically helps.

Effective communication and coordination are crucial to building high performance teams and organizations. To improve and optimize your communication and coordination, bring awareness to how you are using emails, the way you are writing, and whether you’re creating the outcome you intend.

Jo Anne Nelson

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