The 5-Sentence Email Strategy: Productivity Lifesaver

Posted On 2018-01-13 by Research N Reports

Excluding extra information from emails can help you reclaim a large portion of your workday, upsurge your efficiency, and improve your chances of receiving a reply.

An average worker spends 28 percent of their day reading and answering email, according to a study by New York City-based management-consulting firm McKinsey and Company. Keeping emails brief and to the point can enable you to recover some of this time.

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. And even if a message is important, if it’s too complex, it won’t get a response.

"Proper email is a balance between politeness and succinctness," says successful serial entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki, author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. "Less than five sentences is often abrupt and rude, more than five sentences wastes time," he says.

As managing director of the venture capital firm Garage Technology Ventures, Kawasaki's inbox is often full, but the emails he sends are almost always five sentences or less. He shares four guidelines for how entrepreneurs can get to the point.

  • The email should answer five simple questions. 

When you compose an email, it should provide just enough information to answer these five questions: Who are you? What do you want? Why are you asking me? Why should I do what you're asking? What is the next step?

"This is all an intelligent person needs to know to make a decision".

  • Cut out excessive details to get a response. 

Read your email over and take out any surplus information before you hit send. People who feel a need to tell their life story probably believe their request is on shaky ground in the first place. But more information won't get the recipient to take action. "Long emails are either unread or, if they are read, they are unanswered”.

  • Shorter emails will help you remain focused.

Restricting yourself to five sentences constrains you to think in a succinct way, helping you stay focused and save time. Shorter emails also allow the recipient to make a quick decision on what action to take, increasing the probability that you'll receive a reply.

  • Limit everything but praise. 

There is one exception to this brevity rule: "When you truly don't need anything from the recipient and you simply want to heap praise and kindness upon him/her, at that point you can go ahead as long as you prefer!"