send fewer emails

Send Fewer Emails to Communicate With More People in Less Time

In a recent survey conducted by University of Northern Colorado’s (UNC) Social Research Lab and Booher Research, knowledge workers report they’re inundated with email:
—42 percent spend 3 hours or more a day reading and responding to email
—34 percent of their email is either redundant or irrelevant

Yet data from a survey of 1,200 US workers conducted by EmployeeChannel, Inc. revealed that workers at all levels say they want more frequent communication from their employer!

So what conclusions can you draw from this?

  • We get too much email from those we don’t care to hear from.
  • We don’t get enough communication from those we want to hear from.
  • We want communication, but begrudge the time required to read it and engage.

So what can you do to make sure your own communication “gets through”?


Tips to Send Fewer Emails


Communicate in Multiple Channels

If you intend to push a message out to a wide audience, use a multichannel approach. In the UNC survey, respondents were analyzed by age groups from Millennials to Traditionalists. Their use of text messaging, emails, phone, face-to-face meetings, and video conferencing varied by age group—but not dramatically.

The reasons: For the most part, when they communicate outgoing messages, the majority use email because that’s the channel that key decision maker/readers use. However, they don’t necessarily “live” on that channel for their incoming messages. To reach those employees, you’ll need to communicate with them where they “live.”


Respond in THEIR Preferred Channel

Respond to other people in the same channel in which they contacted you.

Granted, some people can be infuriatingly slow to respond to email. So when you must interact with these colleagues, you’re tempted to leave multiple messages: text, email, phone, social media. Most often, the reaction is annoyance.

Continuing to switch channels (that is, they phone you and you email your response) to YOUR preference is like saying “You live at the wrong address” or “You drive the wrong model car.”


Meet Expectations for Standard Response Times

What’s the standard response time expected in your organization? One hour? Four hours? Twenty-four hours? Are there exceptions? If so, what? If you don’t know, find out from your team leader. If you’re the leader, communicate the standard to your team.

Eighty percent of the participants in the UNC survey typically expect readers to respond to “important” emails within four hours or less. Fifty-nine percent expect a response within an hour or less.

Protect your personal brand by living up to the standard in your culture. Slow responses suggest many things—most of them negative:

  • You’re overwhelmed and can’t keep up with the pace.
  • You’re puzzled by the decision or action required.
  • Your system of handling daily inquiries is ineffective.
  • You have a staffing problem.
  • The situation, decision, or project is unimportant to you.

Can you routinely afford to be considered the bottleneck to decisions and processes?


Limit Distribution to Increase Engagement

As with meetings, the larger the group, the lower the individual participation. When emailing for input, the same principle applies.

When you email blast a large group, people feel anonymous. Fewer feel it’s necessary to respond. If you need input, limit the list. You’ll increase response—not to mention clearing inboxes for the uninterested.


Send Less to Communicate More

Seriously. Hit SEND far less often, and your emails will grab more attention when they arrive.


Learn more effective email strategies in Faster, Fewer, Better Emails: Manage the Volume, Reduce the Stress, Love the Results. Click here for details.

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