Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The amount of email I receive grows every day, spam excluded. The length of email messages keeps growing, too. It feels like people want to ramble on when writing an email.

There is a downside to writing a long email: I don’t read them. To be more precise, I skim. If I read every email received, my day would be nothing but reading email.

Another habit I see growing is the long email response to a short email request. Example: I inform a business client I need more information to complete a project. The client then has four or five people within the organization send me emails as long as 3,000 words. You know what happens when I get email bombed? I send it to a folder for later review, unread. Do you know what the chances are I’ll ever have the time to go back and read all those emails? Sure you do.

Writing an email is not the same as writing a novel. Brevity is a must when communicating. Otherwise, you get tuned out.

Most posts on this blog range from 300 – 500 words. Do you know why? Because after 250 words, half the readers are already skimming or clicking elsewhere. Don’t believe me. This post is just over 200 words. Are you looking to click on another post or link?

Reading email is different than reading a book. I read a book to relax and dig in deep. I read email for quick pieces of information. If the email rambles, I leave. In the few instances I weathered the storm to the end, I find the email continued to ramble and never accomplished anything.

So, what did we learn in today’s lesson? Keep emails brief or they’ll end up in the “worry about it later” folder. We also learned that once you set a pattern of useless, wordy emails, future emails are never opened until everything else is done.

Look at that. Just over 300 words and only one sentence fragment.