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Steve Dotto here. Thanks for joining me today. Actually today is the first demo that I’m
shooting with my new lighting setup so I hope that everybody likes the color of Steve a
little bit better today. I hope I look a little bit better.
We have a very serious topic to discuss today, one of my favorite topics, dealing with email
overload. Anybody who follows this channel knows that I have a real thing about the productivity
lost and the stress gained from not having control of our email. Today, we’re going
to talk about that not from a prospective of technology. We’ve looked at a lot of
the different pieces of technology in the past but today I wanna spend a little
bit of time and chat with you about what we can do in our email and how we address it
and how we actually manage it procedurally in order to a) reduce the amount of email
overload and amount of stress; but b) also to increase the chance that an email will
properly be acted on, that it will become an asset to the conversation, to the project
as we move ahead and not be become an impediment to others and to ourselves.
So the first thing that I wanted to talk about is those darned addressing fields.
Obviously To, CC and BCC are there for a reason and they all have their place but using them
properly is a very important thing. So number one is if you are the primary recipient of
an email in the To field, you have a responsibility to act on that email.
Now if you are CC’ed in an email, you have no responsibility to respond whatsoever. You
only have the responsibility to audit it and see exactly what’s happening and then just
basically audit it. If you’re in the BCC field, a) you should first of all question
why you’re in BCC. If it’s interoffice communication and somebody is basically copying
you so that nobody else knows that you’re aware, well that carries all sorts of extra
social dilemma, doesn’t it? So I think personally that’s a very bad idea.
Now we all use BCC. I use it with my mail lists when I’m sending out to a small group
of people that are say, involved in a course and I don’t really want to share anybody’s
email address with everybody else. That’s the purpose of BCC, not to be nefarious and
to hide the fact that you’re telling your boss or you’re telling a coworker, including
them in a conversation so they can be a voyeur in that conversation. So be very careful about
how you use that. It could come back to haunt you.
Now as mentioned, the To and the CC fields are really your responsibility to respond
but you can also make sure that you pay attention to it as you’re addressing the email. Don’t
send to people in the To address if they don’t need to respond. They don’t have to be included.
Send it to the primary person and then CC everybody else so that they don’t feel a
responsibility to reply. When you get an email that you have no responsibility to reply to,
if you’re in the CC field, don’t just send back a comment, “Got it,” “Okay,”
“Thanks.” No need to be polite. That just adds to the volume of email in everybody’s
inbox. You can just dispense with that immediately. The next thing I want to talk about is the
subject field which is the most powerful tool we have as far as making sure that email is
properly processed and handled. Now I rely for a lot of my thoughts on email on a woman
named Carol Sutherland. She teaches courses on email management, productivity and team
management here in Vancouver. I’m going to have a link to her site at Sutherland Consulting
but she did a series of seminars with me where she taught people about developing an email
chart within the company and a lot of what I’m saying today, I’m just parroting the
things that Carol taught me around how we manage email especially within an enterprise
and within a group. If you want to go straight to the source, I will have links to Carol’s
information as we go along. But for now, let me paraphrase what she says
about the subject matter because this is really important. If you’re expecting somebody
to act on an email, put it on the subject line. She recommends putting it right at the
front of the subject line. I don’t care if you put it at the front of the subject
or at the end of the subject but if I’m expecting you to do something and I’m writing
an email to you, if I put “Action Required” right there at the front of the email, you
know that action is required whether it’s at the front or the back. If I put “By Thursday”
or by a date, then you know even more that you have a responsibility to do that.
If you see this in your inbox, you can’t ignore this. You are going to recognize the
fact that you have a responsibility to act and to react to the email. This clarity, this
not having people infer from the subject matter but giving them clear directions and clear
instructions in the subject line is a great method for increasing your venture’s productivity.
Then let’s talk about the actual body of the email itself. Carol recommends if it’s
a long email, if it’s more than a paragraph or two, to summarize exactly what’s happening
in the very first paragraph, in the first few lines, especially if you’ve CC’ed
a lot of people. They’re able to then read the summary. They don’t have to waste time
on the body. That’s a good practice as well. Additionally if there is action required,
make sure that the last thing you say in the email is the action which is required stated
clearly. Don’t be nebulous about it. Don’t say, “What do you think? Is this a good
idea? Thoughts?” “Thoughts?” is a terrible way to end an email because if I’m reading
that email, I think that you want something back from me and now I’m noodling, trying
to figure out exactly what my thoughts are on it. Instead, you can say, “Steve, can
you please reply to this person by this date with this information and let me know that
you’ve done that.” Very clear instructions. Then I know exactly what I have to do and
I can proceed. This kind of clarity, this kind of decisiveness, is a real benefit to
moving the ball further downfield in any project that you’re working on.
Allow me to summarize some best practices you might decide to participate in if you
want to improve the communication value of the email going out from your desktop. Number
one, only address email in the To field to people who have to respond. Be clear about
what the response you expect is. If it’s for information only, type “For information
only.” If they need to reply to you by a certain date, say, “Action required by (certain
date).” Be clear and concise about what you expect from an email right in the subject
line. In the CC field, only copy people who should
be auditing and not the cover-your-ass emails that so many people send that basically look
like you’re busy. Don’t do that. Thirdly, as far as the BCC field, use that sparingly
and don’t use it to kind of cloak activities so that people can voyeuristically view email.
In the body of the email itself, if it’s a long email summarize it in the first paragraph
so that people who are just auditing the email can get on with their day more quickly. At
the end of your email, make sure that you are clear about what action you expect from
the email and don’t be airy-fairy. Don’t say “Thoughts?” or any of those sorts
of things. If you start to act with your email this way,
perhaps others in your organization will follow suit and your life will become easier as well
as people start to send you clear instructions. But regardless, you’re going to benefit
because you are going to be clear and decisive and you’re going to take a real leadership
position in every communication that you embark on. If you are in an organization that is
thinking about this system-wide, find somebody like Carol Sutherland who comes in, takes
a look at your email system within your entire venture and then gives you a program that
teaches everybody how to get on the same page and handle email in the same way, which just
basically moves the whole enterprise ahead that much more effectively.
I hope you found this video today to be an effective use of your time. Please subscribe
to our channel. You know we are on a journey to 100,000 subscribers and you are an integral
part of that. I appreciate you subscribing, plus you get the benefit of seeing our videos
as soon as they’re released when you subscribe. I’m Steve Dotto. Thanks for spending time
with me today.
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Email Power Tips - Effective Email Management

22915 Folder Collection
Zenn published on October 15, 2014
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