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How many times have you added a second idea to an email and found out the second thought was missed by the reader?  Happens all the time.  You should have sent two emails.

The world has Attention Deficit Disease.  These days, everyone is happy jumping to confusions.

Email is not like writing an old style memo or letter where you argue out a position using a number of points.  Most of the time it is a fragment, a posting, a bulletin – not an essay.

The format structure I was taught – and also taught many people – for business memos was:

  1. State your purpose
  2. Provide relevant background
  3. State your recommendation
  4. Provide reasons why your recommendation is good
  5. Sign off with Next Steps

That paradigm worked when folks had time to read a memo and consider ideas.  It was a time of thinking through options and making a decision on a subject.  It was also a time when long copy ads worked and when thoughtful articles appeared in newspapers and magazines.

The format still works, but cut to the chase.  Purpose and recommendation to start with a boiled down background and rationale.

We seem to be passing from a written culture to an oral one.  People today know a lot more about movies or TV shows than they do about books.  They are happier listening or watching than in reading.  With video, they can spend an hour or two and get the whole story.  A book takes longer to read and digest.  But books have been the basis of our culture for hundreds of years, perhaps a thousand.  It will be sad to see them go.

Even written forms like this blog, limit themselves to one page or under 1,000 words.  People are too stressed by time and restlessness to read more.  They have to move on to the next subject.  This makes for poorly thought out decisions at times.

With email, everything is much more short term and much less strategic.  Thoughts fly like a person with ADD on speed; popcorn popping new thoughts every few seconds.  If you want to get results from your email.  Keep it punchy, keep it short.

Also, give some thought to starting a new email trail instead of “reply all” and continuing a conversation. Sometimes the trail can be lost and sometimes there is a message in the tail that should not be shared.

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