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Senior bankers receive way too much email to humanly digest.To cut through the mess, I was given the following advice by a managing director.
Senior bankers want context, but only enough to tell them exactly what they are supposed to do, not do or decide.
Here are the three steps you need to master to send this kind of email.
Oh, and if you don’t have time to read the rest of this, just mimic the first four sentences of this post and you’ll be halfway there.
Step 1: Make the subject line short, direct, specific and conversational (i.e. “Here are planned next steps w/ [client], do you agree?”).
The point is, the subject delivers the context and content of the email, while clearly asking for a decision.
The reader knows the email is addressed directly to them and that they need to make a decision.
Step 2: Keep the body of the email as short as possible (less than four short sentences), don’t include attachments unless absolutely necessary and if you do, only do so for context.
Relying on someone opening an attachment and digesting its contents in order to respond to your email is a sure way to massively decrease the chances of an effective response.
Step 3: The recipient is likely to read the email on their Blackberry or some mobile device.
Blackberry’s have narrow screens.
Make every sentence as short as possible and each sentence it’s own paragraph.
This makes it easier to read and ensures that no bit of information gets lost at the end of a paragraph.
Abbreviate with impunity but stay away from contractions.
What do these three steps add up to?
This kind of email:
Here are planned next steps w/ Gen. Co., do you agree?
John – Bob, Jim, Sue and I met this afternoon on next steps with Gen. Co.
The key issue is that CFO does not have updated timeline or target co. financials.
Tonight, we will send CFO the timeline and target co. financials you approved yesterday.
We will send you the email for approval and cc you and both our teams.
Is this plan ok with you? Please let us know.
Depending on how micromanage-y the banker you are working with is, that line about sending the email to him for approval might be absolutely critical or completely useless.
Knowing which is your job.
And after you send the email, your job is not done.
Check with secretaries, other team members, etc. to find out where the reader is and what they are doing.
Stalk them down and find a way to remind John to respond to your email if he hasn’t yet.
Over the top? If what you’re emailing about is actually important, not at all.
And making sure your email is actually important is the most critical thing to know.
If it’s not important, don’t add to the clutter.