Performance Communication

12 Point Checklist for Writing an Effective Email

12 Point Checklist for Writing an Effective Email

Statistics, extrapolations and counting by Radicati Group from February 2015  estimate the number of emails sent per day (in 2015) to be around 205 billion. This means almost 2.4 million emails are sent every second and some 74 trillion emails are sent per year.

However, how many of the emails sent every day actually reach the “right” person and achieve the goal the sender intended? As a receiver, I often feel overwhelmed by the number of emails I receive, have a difficult time discerning which ones to read, which ones need responses, and which ones can be deleted without even opening. As a result, I find that I’ve begun to delete the vast majority of the emails I receive and delay responding to others because I don’t know what the person wants, because they’re asking for too much in one email, or because the email was sent to a dozen people and at least one of them I assume will “take care of it.”

If you want to send emails that get read and get results, here’s a 12-point checklist to use before you hit SEND.

  1. Am I sending this email only to people who ABSOLUTELY need to receive the information?
  2. Have I clarified those I expect to take action (those in the TO field) from those I’m just “keeping in the loop,” (those in the CC field.)
  3. Do I need to REPLY ALL with my response, or just send my answer to the person who needs to know my answer?
  4. Did I get to the point quickly and clarify my purpose and/or question up front or have I buried the point after a bunch of rambling background?
  5. Is email the BEST way to communicate my message and achieve my goal, or would a call, text, or face-to-face be more appropriate, effective, and efficient?
  6. Is my email conversational, professional, and pleasant, or do I sound like I’m shouting demands?
  7. Did I use headers, paragraph separations, and other formatting to clearly identify key areas of my content, or did I write one long run-on blob of text?
  8. Did I write my subject line AFTER I’ve finalized my content so that it is most accurate?
  9. Will my subject line compel people to open my email?
  10. Have I checked any links in the email or my signature block to ensure they still work and go to the right place?
  11. If I have the option for a sub-header, have I taken advantage of it as a compelling preview to my email content so people will open it?
  12. If I’m angry or upset, have I given myself a cooling off period to reread the email before I hit SEND?

What other email effectiveness tips would you add to this list? Let everyone know by commenting below!

For more information about writing effective emails, check out this post on 9 Critical Email Mistakes You Might Be Making.


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