“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” Wyatt Earp
One of the supposed benefits of email is its efficiency. In business, this can be beguiling: an excellent opportunity to show your customer service chops, to show how responsive you can be, to quickly take care of a number of issues by firing off emails.
But beware! A poorly written email can end up costing you time, energy and credibility.
I have seen emails that were sent quickly, and ended up requiring several additional messages going back and forth to clarify the meaning of the original email.
And on and on and on…and on. All that extra time and effort—not to mention, damage to credibility and professional image—could have been avoided by taking a few moments to ensure that the first email accurately conveys what it was meant to.
Oh, and ensuring the correct spelling of the recipient’s name is always a fine idea.
When you sacrifice precision for speed, you get False Efficiency. Responsiveness is good, but unless you’re careful, you risk undermining that good with a confusing, inaccurate message.
Speed without care is reckless—and a recipe for failure. What is required is Velocity: the combination of speed and purposeful direction.
So, before you hit “Send”:
- Save as “Draft”.
- Wait 5-10 minutes, then revisit to ensure it is on Purpose, to proofread for typos, to add clarity, and to run spellcheck.
- Magnify your email to 150% to more easily catch typos and punctuation errors.
- Read your email out loud to check smoothness and flow.
- Important Safety Tip: If you have to take breath in the middle of a sentence, it’s probably too long. Consider deleting unnecessary words or making two sentences.
- Have someone else read your email. Fresh eyes will catch things you missed. And if your Purpose isn’t clear or being fulfilled, they’ll spot that, too.
The extra time you spend on careful writing will be paid back in full as you avoid misunderstanding, damaged credibility and endless clarification emails.
Next Time: Get to the Point!
Today’s Fact Cetera
In the time it takes you to read this, over 100 million emails will be sent.