15 Tips for Writing Effective Email | thinksimplenow.com

In: Biz| Tips & Tricks

19 May 2009


Have you ever needed to email someone - a stranger, asking them for
a favor? How can one compose email such that they will be read and
responded to? How do we effectively email someone who gets a lot of

Whether personal or business, the ability to compose efficient and
effective email is super useful - both in terms of productivity and

We’re all busy, and we’ve all received long, ambiguous and rambling
email. Ironically, most of us have also been guilty of writing such
verbose email while requesting for someone else’s time.

Now that I’ve had a little taste, on the receiving end of such
email, it quickly became obvious which kind of email works and which do
not. I have made some interesting and useful observations on effective
email - particularly,

  • What not to do when emailing someone (ie. a stranger).
  • How to write email that people will actually (want to) read.

The point of this article is to share tips on how to approach people
via email in the most efficient way possible, along with some common
pitfalls on why some emails do not work.


Before we dive in, let’s lay out some assumptions:

  • The recipient (person you are emailing) potentially gets a lot of email
  • You need something from the recipient and plan on pitching it via email
  • You either do not know the recipient, or she is an acquaintance,
    or she is a close friend and you’re asking for an unusual request.

Our goal is to construct email that:

  • Will actually be read
  • Will actually be understood
  • Will not annoy the receiver
  • Does not take up too much time on the receiver’s end.

Email Psychology

Generally speaking, the sender and receiver see things from
drastically different points of views. And from the perspective of a
sender, we often do not spend time understanding who the receiver is
and what their inbox might look like. Let’s have a quick glance at both

Observing the Receiver

  • Gets a lot of email.
  • May receive compliments regularly, if they are a public figure.
  • Regularly gets asked a standard set of questions and favors.
  • Does not have a lot of free time.
  • Does not mind helping you, if it is fast.

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Network & Systems Integration Engineer @ Alcatel-Lucent


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