Thursday, May 29, 2014

Are board members and/or staff misreading your emails?

Crowded email in-boxes compounded by expanding social media headlines make it difficult for association messages to get through.
One association CEO shared with me that he is convinced half of his board doesn’t read association emails. “During our strategic planning session, I discovered many on my board don’t fully understand what all the association is doing for its members. Can you imagine how uninformed our members are?!”

I thought about this back when I read Sue Shellenbarger’s Wall Street Journal piece headlined Email Enigma: When the Boss's Reply Seems Cryptic.

Sue focuses on miscommunications sometimes fostered because of our instant responses.

Here are 4 suggested components to improve communications with your leaders and members:

Subject line
  • A crucial part that helps get your emails opened. It should state the specific focus of the email (in the words your audience is likely to use).
Opening sentences
  • Quickly answer the old journalistic questions: who, what, when, why, where, how.
  • I can’t tell you how often association emails forget to include the when, where or how.
Followup statement
  • Back up your opening and make it short, sweet, easy to repeat.
  • Chunk it and use bullets. Solid grey blocks of words are difficult for speed reading. Make it easier to see the important points.
Call for action
  • Make sure the audience knows what they are supposed to do with the information you’ve shared. 
  • If action is needed, tell them what & when (deadlines) 
  • If action is needed, you should put that in the subject line and/or opening sentence and then repeat it in the call for action.
You may want to experiment with the broadcast journalism formula designed to enhance message communication:
  1. Tell’em what you’re going to tell’em.
  2. Tell’em.
  3. Tell’em what you told them.

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