Quick career tips: Master the skill of writing concise emails

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Show Notes

Today’s career tip spotlight is on developing a non-technical skill: mastering the skill of writing concise emails.

Writing concise emails that are short and to the point has been one of the greatest pieces of advice Sujani has received, and one that she tries to practice as much as possible. 

Concise emails are very beneficial, not only because the response rate is much higher, but it forces you to summarize your thoughts clearly so that the objective of the email is met. In this episode, Sujani shares two tips on how to practice writing concise emails starting today!


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Episode Transcript

Sujani 0:02
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Sujani 0:17
Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space for you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. My name is Sujani Siva, the host of PH SPOTlight, and I’m here to help you build your public health career. So over the years, while I attended various events, or when I speak with other public health professionals, I am constantly thinking about the different skills I need to work on, to not only be more productive at my work, but also to do my job well. And so what I’ve come to realize is that beyond the technical skills required to do our public health work, there are additional skills that we need to work on. And we can call these soft skills, if you will. So today’s Career Tip is on a skill that I feel you need to work on that’s not a technical skill related to public health content. However, it is a very important skill. And that is mastering the skill of writing concise email. So it’s probably fair for me to assume that communication is needed for you to do your job. And that a lot of it takes place via email, especially given that many of us have moved into working from home. So writing concise emails that are short, and to the point has been one of the greatest pieces of advice I have received. And one that I try to practice as much as possible. Concise emails are very beneficial, not only because the response rate is much higher from the person you are sending the email to. But it forces you to summarize your thoughts clearly using fewer words, allowing you to zero in to the main objective for sending your email. And then as a result, this saves people time. And as a bonus, when you master writing short emails that are concise, and to the point, you become very efficient at this task, this means email writing doesn’t consume your days. I, for example, am someone who is guilty of letting emails pile up at times because the task of writing up a response seems so overwhelming, and something that I think is going to just take up so much of my time, they’d rather put it off and focus on quote unquote, actual work. So by becoming very efficient at writing emails, we make this task to be less of a burden. So how does one go about writing concise emails, I’m going to share with you two tips to get you practicing today. So when you’re writing emails for the next little while, rather than just typing away, start off by identifying your objective for emailing someone. So why is it that you need to send them this email? For example, is it to share information? So is it just an FYI email? Or is it to ask for input on something where you are looking for a response from this individual. And so stick to one objective per email and state this right at the beginning. Next, get into practice of limiting the number of words you’re using in the email, and only give yourself permission to write this many words. Nothing more. A study by Boomerang, which is an add on app to Gmail found that 75 to 100 word emails had the highest response rates. So this means sticking to about five sentences and getting straight to the point. You can always elaborate in a future email if the recipient asks for more information, or you also have the option to set up a call. And the final step before hitting send is something that you want to do meticulously in the beginning. And later on, you may not even need the step, and that is to edit, edit, and edit some more. So go through your email, take out anything you find that unnecessarily adds length to the email, or words and phrases that aren’t really meeting the objective of the email. So with that, next time you have the opportunity to write an email challenge yourself to stick to one objective and a 75 to 100 word limit.

Sujani 4:49
You’ll notice that not only will your writing improved, but you’ll also become better at concisely summarizing thoughts and ideas. And so I hope you enjoy that episode spotlighting this career tip. And before you leave, I wanted to let you know that PH SPOT has some great products for students early and established public health professionals on our website at pHspot.ca/resources. So be sure to check those out. And if you want to see notes from today’s episode, you can head over to pHspot.ca/podcast. And a little favor that I have to ask from you is, if you’re listening to this episode on Apple podcast, Google or Spotify, please do leave us a review so that other public health professionals know what to expect and this also helps us know that you’re enjoying these episodes or maybe you have suggestions for other ones. So until next time, thank you so much for tuning into PH SPOTlight and for the invaluable work that you do for this world.


About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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