Email is becoming a very useful and almost essential tool in business. When communicating within a company or outside of it, it’s important to get the correct impact and make sure you catch the person’s interest before you lose it. If the email is overly long you are likely to find that the reader won’t even bother to read it, which means when you’ve written a proposal that is almost three pages long all that hard work has just gone to waste.
I’ve written before about the content of emails but this is specifically about knowing how long the email should be, and what should be featured. The fact is the email needs to be as short as you can possibly make it, but still contain enough information to keep the readers interest. So it’s a case of finding that perfect balance.
Getting the Length Right
The important thing is to know who you are actually writing to, be it a client, a customer or even an executive of a company. There are many people in a company, and many in others that you have to communicate with too, so make sure you know who they are before you start to write. Also know the subject and fully understand what you are talking about. The fact is that if you start to write and feel you have to explain the subject not only to them but yourself then you are going to write too much, you have to be concise and to the point.
When writing about a subject first think about what you are actually trying to say, is this the initial proposal to catch the reader’s interest? If so then you don’t need to explain it all, you can save that for later in the email conversation. First you have to write the basics, an outline of sorts so that the reader can see what you are wanting, why you are contacting them and what information you are trying to share with them. Once you get the reply to ask for more detailed information then you can write the second email that will be more detailed, or even include it as a document that the reader can read in their own time. This saves time for not only them but for you.
Be aware though there are times when emails should be longer, and if there is a need for it don’t stray away from that fact. If for example you are dealing with a complaint and length is needed to fully explain something then it is likely that the reader will be ready for these details and will take time to read it. This is a different scenario of course because the reader has, in a way already asked for the details. This also can be taken into consideration when writing an email, but you have to be able to understand the situation and consider the length, and just what the person is asking for.
In the end you are the person who has to decide just how long emails should be, but it is always important to consider the context of what you are trying to achieve. Do you want to catch a person’s interest? If so then you aim for the shorter email but with enough detail to get the point across, but in the end you do have to use your own instincts and knowledge to know exactly what the situation requires.