Productive Engineering Email Template
Everyone has read an email that is really a chain of emails where the subject changed 4 times and the actual email subject line has little to do with the topic of discussion. It's this email mentality that often causes response delays, excessive emails in everyone's inbox, and unknown actions required by the recipients. Emails should be well thought out and focused on a clear, concise action. This template below was passed along to me once at a conference and I give the individual all the credit, however I don't know who they actually are. Regardless, this template provides the focus required for efficient email communication. Even if it doesn't apply to all the emails we write, I encourage everyone to at least keep the information in their thoughts as you write your next one.
Before you begin to write you email, ask yourself three questions:
- Why am I writing this?
- Who am I sending this to? (Do all recipients, including those cc’d, fit the following criteria: a) they have requested or require this information or b) has an action assigned as a result of your email.)
- What exactly do I want the recipient to do upon reading the email?
Use this template for all e-mail messages going to groups of people, especially to large distribution lists. It is particularly useful for messages that request/require specific actions from recipients. Use easy-to-understand language and keep it as short as possible. Rely heavily on the “Detailed Information” section to refer recipients to other resources for more information. The quickest way to produce the email is to write the “Action Required” and “Key Dates” section first, and then write the “Summary.” This also helps to avoid repetitive information. Not all placeholders provided below will be relevant to your message and can be deleted.
Note: the information in the box does not appear in the body of the e-mail. It is used to set up the message before sending.
DATE: September 22, 2017
TO: Recipients’ e-mail or distribution list address
FROM: Sender’s or sending department’s e-mail address
SUBJECT: Make it easy for your recipient to immediately understand:
- Why you have sent them an email?
- What kind of action or response is required?
Very clear, specific descriptions, as follows:
- FYI, _________________
- ACTION: (i.e. Approval, Feedback, RSVP, etc)
- REMINDER: ____________________
- DISCUSSION: ___________________
ATTACHMENT(S): Before sending an attachment, always default to sending a URL link when the information is available online. Do not zip PowerPoint Presentations, and keep attachments below 2MB unless absolutely required. This message is intended for [department, team, function, etc]
SUMMARY: The summary should consist of 2-4 sentences containing the most critical information that you intend for the reader to retain from the message. Do not duplicate the information that will be provided in the sections below.
ACTION REQUIRED (or REQUESTED, as appropriate): Be very clear and concise on WHAT action is required by WHEN and it should consists of 2-3 bullets
ADDITIONAL KEY DATES: Use if there are important dates/activities other than the deadlines for the required actions.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT: Person’s name, location, phone number and e-mail address.
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