Thursday, 26 March 2015

On the use of visual cues in emails

Much said and misunderstood
I am used to writing emails in the narrative; long, detailed, thought through missives to get across a point without having to attach explanatory notes; though anecdotes and analogies can be helpful.
However, I have found that due to short attention spans, people might not read the whole email and thereby miss out on what I have to say.
Especially, now when I can receive a deluge of emails that represents a lot of noise, very little communication, but excitable enough for unnecessary power plays, politics and escalations.
Pointedly concise
Whilst I have not sacrificed my propensity for the narrative, I have found that visuals cues help a lot.
My emails now start with a greeting, a short introduction, numbered or bullet points depending on whether I am offering steps to follow or points to note and then more notes if the person wants to understand my reasoning.
The first part is contextually concise and the latter part is generously detailed.
Effective feedback
Beyond this, I can capitalise a negative, embolden or italicise some text and even colour a phrase so that the particular point is never lost in the multitude of words.
Suffice it to say that I have been pleased with the effectiveness of my communication, in that I am not only properly understood, the message is clear and I receive reports to that effect.
Emails may not be the best tool to get a point across, but in a multidisciplinary international team, it is the best means available and one had better find ways to make the best use of communicating with it.


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