Effective Emails #BLUF

Yes, this is a bit outside of my specialty; however, I receive somewhere between four to five hundred emails a day. Some are informational, some require me to make a decision, others are request. There is a US DOD standard for emails that makes things much easier for everyone involved. It starts with the subject line and goes into how the body of the email should be crafted.

The Subject Line key words: ACTION, INFO, DECISION, SIGN. You can put all kinds of key words in the beginning of your subject line. This will tell the reader what to expect and what kind of actions they may need to do.

BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front. The most important part of the email goes up front. If you are asking for an action, a decision, making a request, or just an FYI, you address it in the first paragraph of your email. Also, and this is a pet peeve of mine, people place links in their emails, and burry them somewhere in the text. Please, right after that first paragraph, you should put all the importing links that will be needed.

Next be concise. Make your emails short and sweet. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve received an email that was over five pages long. Unless you have authored a couple of books and have a good editor review your email, they are difficult to read and rarely provide the information that is really needed. So keep it short and too the point.

If you require more than one screen to get the message across in an email, use bullet points and use active verbs. If you can’t get everything across like in one screen, follow up the email with a phone call. Yes, people still talk on the phone and quite frankly, get a lot done that way.