Email Writing: Five Sentences Philosophy

One thing we need to know while writing email. If your message is too short you’ll sound abrupt. If it’s too long no one will read it.

The purpose of this post is to focus on length of emails we write everyday, yes I mean the emails we write everyday, not the emails we read or delete or dump into a folder.

Due to remote and geographically distributed teams, emails have became most widely used medium for daily communication, replacing phones calls and face-to-face meetings. Therefore we spend a lot of time writing emails, the average worker spends 28 percent of office time (11 hours a week) on email.

Given the fact that we all write a novel’s worth of email every year, did you see that, a novel worth of email, some us might have become an author if we spend that much of typing energy on writing actual books or articles.

Does writing long email helps in resolving the issue, entrepreneur-investor-author Guy Kawasaki tells

Long emails are either unread or, if they are read, they are unanswered … Right now I have 600 read but unanswered emails in my inbox.

Therefore in order to find the ideal length for an email, I found the website five.sentenc.es which suggests that an ideal length for an email to be fewer than five sentences. They outline the approach as such:

The Problem: E-mail takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it.
The SolutionEmail Writing - Five Sentences Philosophy: Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead.

This is the easiest solution to essay type of email writing problem, by making our emails really really easy to reply by making them simple.

Since people are both busy and lazy, they’re “more likely to respond to information requests—whether important or trivial—if they’re easy to address,” as Quartz recently reported.

Proper email is a balance between politeness and succinctness, Less than five sentences is often abrupt and rude, more than five sentences wastes time. – Author Guy Kawasaki

ProTip: Before you fire an email off, take an extra 30 seconds and read it over. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a clear, easy-to-understand point to this email?
  • Is there anything I can take out that doesn’t add to the main point?
  • Can anything be simplified?

Now to conclude this long blog, about writing short email:

The ability to write a short email is a skill in itself. Writing short emails shows confidence in what you have to say.

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