How to Write Brief Emails

We need to write more brief emails. The new reality of today is: There is no time for slowing down. There is no time to build up to a big conclusion.

To communicate effectively nowadays, you must be able to not only speak in headlines to grab someone’s attentions, but also to keep your emails brief and to the point.

Your emails need to create clarity, urgency, and context for people to understand them and give them their attention. The average professional receives 304 emails per week. Based on that, imagine how many emails an executive receives.

Busy people quickly lose patience when your send them long, boring emails. If you’re buried under hundreds of emails and are in meetings all day, you don’t have time to waste.

How to Write Brief Emails

For busy executives, brevity is the new unspoken expectation, whether you’re trying to grab their attention through email, meeting, or presentations.

“Make emails short, personalized, and to the point,” says Gini Dietrich, the author of Spin Sucks and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a marketing communications firm.

But how can you keep your emails brief, when there is so much information you need to transmit?

The secret sauce of brief emails is trimming. If you were to present your executive the email you are about to send him in less than a minute, what information would you keep?

When you start trimming, you are more aware of the importance of the information you want to transmit, you are forced to put yourself in your receiver’s shoes.

Implications of Trimming and Writing Brief Emails

  • Instant appreciation. People are thankful when it requires less energy to grasp the same basic information in less time.
  • Look for what weighs you down. Cutting out the finer details requires attention and awareness for what unnecessarily burdens people.
  • Live the “less is more” way. When you are throwing things out, it may be hard to decide what goes, but keep in mind what people will really care about.

Do this exercise every time you need to send an email, and check your results over time. I’ll be curious to hear what you find.


Want to know more about being brief? Check out The Brief Practitioner, an online course from The Brief Lab that teaches executives how to avoid information overload and become lean, effective leaders and communicators.


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