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    How to Avoid Wordy Email Threads

    Email has been a staple in the world of communication for decades. It’s used by businesses in everyday communication between colleagues and marketing to customers. It’s how many consumers stay updated on deals and account information. Like it or not, email is fully integrated into life as you know it.

    That, however, doesn’t mean it’s without its faults. A glaring concern are email threads that are dozens of replies long featuring more words than anyone cares to read. These drawn-out, wordy emails are the antithesis of what the tool is built for — efficiency. If you’re plagued by email content that closely resembles that of an instruction manual, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips on improving your habits to get your point across quickly and effectively.

    How to add an email signature in Outlook | ZDNET

    Put Visuals to Use

    Instead of leaning on words to explain what you’re trying to find out or solve, rely on visuals and graphics. Whether you’re editing a website or providing a reference, taking the time to include images can clear up your message. It’s all just dependent on finding the right visuals.

    That’s where a screenshot app can help. When you’re able to quickly capture your screen, it’s easy to share a lot of information succinctly. You just have to pull up the content you’re wanting to capture, enable the app, and save your file. Then, attach or embed that visual into your email.

    You’ll show exactly what you’re hoping to do without confusion about which part of the content you’re referencing. Readers can also benefit from the context naturally included in a screenshot. Ultimately, this seemingly small change makes your message more straightforward. And that creates a shorter email experience.

    Make Subject Lines Clear

    One of the benefits of emails is subject lines. You’re able to directly state information that summarizes the point of the email or, at the very least, intrigues the reader. That’s why it’s so important to spend time on your subject line to ensure effective communication.

    A good idea is to either state an overview of the topic you’re emailing about or what you need from the recipient. For example, if they need to do something, adding “Action Requested” or “Action Required” can be helpful. You can also go a bit more specific by including what action they should take like “Review Needed.”

    Follow this best practice in every email you write so the recipient knows its intent before opening it. That also helps you track what you’ve requested of others through a quick search of your sent box, making following up easier. And it allows recipients to prioritize and organize their inboxes for optimal productivity. You’ll get what you need faster without needing half a dozen replies.

    Use Formatting to Your Advantage

    What you say is just as important as how you say it when it comes to email. People are checking their inboxes between meetings or on their phones at the doctor’s office. They’re not looking to dive into a block of text that takes up their whole screen. That’s why how you format your email is so important.

    If you have a lot of information to get across, it can be tempting to brain-dump it all into the text box. What you’ll end up with is an email no one wants to read. Instead, opt for formatting like bullet points or break up content into paragraphs. That way, it’s easier to digest.

    The time spent creating scannable email content means people can review it quickly. Even better, they can respond equally as fast. And you can move on to your next to-do list item without wading through a lengthy thread.

    Review Your Send List

    How many times have you gone on a wild goose chase to find the right person to answer your question? That probably included a lot of additional emails that still didn’t get you what you needed. When the right person is finally contacted, they usually have a novel’s worth of content to review. You can avoid this by being intentional with your send list.

    That means doing your best to identify who you need to email from the start. It may include asking around or a bit more digging, but it’s worthwhile to stop an avalanche of replies in its tracks. Remember to be intentional with the “to” and “carbon copy (CC)” lines, too. If you need a reply, use the “to” field; if you’re including them for awareness, a CC should suffice.

    Once you know who to ask, half the battle is done. That person can advise on the next steps or request a follow-up action. And you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing what you need.

    Know When to Schedule a Call

    You would think that identifying what issues can be resolved through email and which require a call is easy. Simple questions need a sentence or two of context with the answer in an equally brief reply. Calls are for more in-depth problems or those that need several people to weigh in simultaneously. However, that is far from reality a lot of the time. That’s why it’s critical to gauge the point at which a meeting is needed to accomplish what you need.

    One key tell can help distinguish between the two: Additions. If new people or questions are being added to the thread, you risk losing sight of the main purpose. The thread inevitably gets convoluted with differing opinions and additional context you may or may not need. It then morphs into emails that are paragraphs long that no one wants to read through. You’ve officially reached a point where more dialogue is needed.

    Of course, no one wants to be in meetings all day when they have other tasks they could be doing. But if it’s more efficient to hop on a 30-minute call and flesh out most of the problem, it’s worthwhile. Plus, you avoid the consistent pings of new emails flowing into your inbox.

    Healthier, Happier, Shorter Email Threads

    Email has come a long way since its inception, and it’s here to stay. But that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to its faults and live with lengthy email threads. Getting to your point quickly and putting thought into your replies can make the experience much more streamlined. And that leaves you time to focus on things that are better worth your time.

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