News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Business

June 7, 2014

CHAMBER: Five short sentences to increase your productivity

TERRE HAUTE — Your emails are too long. It takes too much time to respond, and your inbox is constantly overflowing. Get it under control by treating your emails like text messages. People will pay more attention and your productivity will be increased.

The End.

Well, that didn’t take up much space, but you got the point, right?

According to an article I recently read at Mashable. com, every email should be five sentences or shorter. I’m as guilty as the next person of sending long emails, and, unfortunately, my inbox is usually a cluttered mess as well. So this intrigued me: Could my inbox really achieve a zen-like state by just limiting my responses to a specific number sentences?

I kept reading and quickly discovered this isn’t a new idea. Apparently, many super successful people such as Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos are well-known for their short and blunt emails. Bezos in particular is known to strike fear in the heart of his employees by forwarding an email with nothing more than an unnerving question mark.

For a variety of reasons, short emails are associated with decision-makers. Perhaps they are perceived to be more respectful of everyone’s time? Or maybe short messages are just better suited to today’s typical mobile delivery? Does it show the sender has confidence in what they are saying or a very clear understanding of their expectations?

That all sounds good and great, but won’t people be offended by short, blunt emails? Not surprisingly, there is a website that has addressed that issue in particular, five.sentenc.es.

Five Sentences has started an online movement to help you keep it short and sweet, while at the same time providing you an excuse for your brevity so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. They suggest adding a signature line to all emails, “Q: Why is this email five sentences or less? A: five.sentenc.es.”

So to close out this long article about a short topic — Get to the point — here are a few tips:

• People don’t need as much background information as you think they do. It might seem essential to you, but it actually seems superfluous to the email recipient. They’d rather you get to the information and request more quickly, then they can ask you to fill in any holes in their knowledge later.

n Don’t waste your subject line. In many email services, including Gmail, just the subject line and first line or two is visible in the recipient’s inbox. Why make the subject “Hi” when it could be “Dinner on Thursday?” Give the recipient an idea of what the email contains and a good reason to click on it.

• Just because your email is short, that doesn’t mean it has to be rude. Think of ways to interject a friendly note and be conscious of not just barking orders to the recipient.

•••

Looking for more useful information to benefit your business? Join the Chamber of Commerce for our BIZ Series seminars, free educational opportunities for our members. The next event is “Intro to Government Contracting,” presented in conjunction with the Indiana Small Business Development Center. The seminar will be at noon on June 18 in the Chamber boardroom, 630 Wabash Ave., suite 105.

For more information or to register, visit www.terrehautechamber.com or call 812-232-2391.

Kristin Craig is the Interim Executive Director and Director of Operations and Communications for the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce. Through this monthly column, she will address important topics related to the chamber and business. For more information about the chamber and its initiatives, visit www.terrehautechamber.com or call 812-232-2391.

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