More Effective Emailing Part II

This is a cut and paste from an email that I sent out to those that I work with this morning. You can see Part I here

This email is part II of a series of Emails that I will be sending out with examples and suggestions covering how I would love to see emails written in the future. Eventually I will turn this into an hour long brown bag and grind it into your skulls. I do not claim to be an expert at this. This series will be me sharing what I’ve been taught, what I have learned the hard way, and what has worked best for me. Take what works best for you and modify your style as needed.

When I write an email asking someone for anything I do my best to not waste the time of the person that I am asking something of, and I strive to make the email as readable as possible with as little effort as possible. A wise VP at Microsoft once told me “Write to the AutoPreview [2] because that is all that most level 63’s and above[1] read” The following bullets are things that I think about, that you should think about as you write an email to someone:

  • Email Opener   Start the email with as few words as possible stating why the email should be read, who should read it, and what you expect from the readers.
  • Task people by Name   If there is someone on the CC line of your message, or multiple on the TO line and you want different things from everyone let them know by name in bold in the message. Example. Bob – do this, Juan – do that… Don’t expect Bob or Juan to know what you are thinking and take the action you want them to take unless you specifically call them out and ask them. This is even more important if the email has more than one recipient.
  • Emphasize Key Points   Change font tone (Colour, Weight, Bold, Italics, Underline, Shape, ETC…) to emphasize things that should be read and paid attention. – think “if I make this sentence look different and stand out the chances of it being read by someone with limited time scanning a document are greater”
  • Obsess Over Bullets   Group anything with more than three items into Bullets. This is a hard rule of all Technical writing. It is much simpler to follow and scan a bulleted list then it is to follow long sentences with complex punctuation that become long paragraphs.
  • Start Bullets Right   Items in a bulleted list should always start with 1-4 words that describe what is in the bullet. The Document scanner can read this and gauge if there is value in reading the rest of the bullet. The bullet opener should always be Bold followed by 3 none breaking spaces [3] – This is based on the “Chicago Manual of Style and Elements of Style style guides that all writers should follow.
  • Less is More   Say as little as possible; always use less words. Offer to provide more detail / background if required at the end of the message. Think “How little can I say to get my point across. I am short on time, so is everyone else that I emailing; I should respect their time” a great statement from Mr. William Strunk “let the sentence breath” -meaning remove all nonessential words from every sentence. Words / Adjectives like; really, just, extremely, etc… might sound great in conversation, but they have no place in a sentences in business or technical writing.

Scroll down to read a message that I sent out this morning asking for help on an issue that I am working.  Notice how I open the message. Notice how I break up; Problem statement, What I have done to address the problem, and What I want from whoever reads the email. I would never say that I am perfect and I am always open to being picked on.

More to follow……. Feel free to reply back with any tips and advice that you might have on this subject, we all have different experiences.

[1] Level 63 being a pay scale number at Microsoft that represents Senior or Manager on a team.
[2] In Outlook you can select View | AutoPreview . This will enable AutoPreview and display the first 80-200 characters of an email in the navigation column.
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-breaking_space Hold down CTRL+SHIFT and hit SPACE to enter a Non-Breaking Space

From: KevinM
Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 8:00 AM
To:

Subject: IE8 + OWA2007 = multiple Authentication

Quick Question |  IE8 + OWA2007 = Multiple Authentication Requests / Why?

Longer version of the same Question   

Problem Statement | I have users across the board with IE8 being prompted for to login every time they open or reply to a message in OWA 2007. On some fun occasions they will open a new message, it will work, only to time out and log them out of the window. Sometimes opening a new message will require that they authenticate to the OWA window and not the message window.

Trying to answer so Far |

  • I’ve tested this all over the place and it consistently breaks with IE8, and works with IE7.
  • Compatibility mode has no effect.
  • The interwebs searches for “IE8 OWA Authentication” did not tell me anything.
  • I Connected directly to one of the CAS servers and Bypassed ISA and f5 with the same results.

Request | Anyone have any bones to toss my way, or beat me with?

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