Book Review: Email, A Write it Well Guide

I reviewed this book for work a few months ago, and thought I would share it with my readers. :)
How to Write and Manage E-mail in the Workplace

By Janis Fisher Chan

Who hasn’t "replied all" only to notice a millisecond after hitting send that your snarky response to dirty dishes in the coffee room went to the whole team? Oh wait, no really, you haven’t? Wow. Ok, well then you probably don’t need to read any further.

Email: A Write it Well Guide
is a guide to the basics of emailing at work. There is nothing revolutionary in the book, but it does contain quite a few good tips, and not surprisingly, the tips apply to all types of writing, not just emails. Specifically, the author’s instructs the reader to:

• Think about why you are writing the email, to whom the email is going, what information does the receiver need, and should this information be conveyed in an email before you write.
• Make sure most important info is up front, because people do not read whole email messages all of the time. Put details towards the bottom.
• Use the 15 second rule: pretend you only have that much time to get your point across.
• When responding to an email, make sure that you read the email thoroughly and answer the question asked in the email. This will save you time and the recipient time.
• If you send the same emails often, consider making a template of these emails.

The author also goes on to remind the reader that email is a public medium, email is permanent, and your employer owns your email. Use email responsibly.

In today’s office climate managing your e-mail can be difficult. The author outlines several ways to focus on work rather than email:

• Do something immediately with every email: delete it, respond to it, forward it, or file it.
• If you are not going to respond to an email where the sender expects a response, let the sender know this and when you will respond by.
• Turn off your new email alert and practice hourly email checking rather than breaking your concentration every time a new email arrives.
• Never check your email in a meeting or while on the phone.

While these tips may be commonsensical, who has not been in a meeting where people are checking their blackberries? Reading the book reinforces the developing social etiquette surrounding email, which given the large role email pays in our daily lives, this is necessarily a good thing.

1 comment:

Erin said...

FYI: Gmail has an "Undo Send" feature you can enable in Settings > Labs. It waits a few seconds before actually sending the email, which is useful if you're like me and realize instantly after you press send that you made a horrible mistake.

The also have Mail Goggles to discourage drunk emailing, and a feature that will tell you if your email might be missing an attachment.