Bob Dylan once wrote “The Times They Are A-Changing.” This certainly is true when it comes to the way we communicate. Right now your phone is more than likely flooded with text messages, social media notifications and direct messages. Leaders have made themselves accessible 24-hours a day.
A quick glance at an Apple watch can connect you to a video conference with someone on the other side of the world. Despite all these changes, email still continues to be one of the most predominant methods of communication. With so many demands for people’s attention, it is essential for church leaders to sharpen their communication skills.
Lately our team has started noticing some reoccurring email mistakes. Here are 7 simple ways to improve your email communication:
1) Include contact information in the footer of your emails.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email that required a follow-up call. Unfortunately, I didn’t have their phone number so I had to write them back and ended up waiting two more days for a reply. No one has time to search everywhere for phone numbers and addresses. Make it easy for people by including your contact info in your email footer.
2) Get to the point.
Sharing life updates may be a nice gesture for close friends but if you work on a fast paced team, just get to the point. Before sending an email determine why you are writing and what you want to say. If people open an email with multiple paragraphs there is a strong chance it will never get read.
3) Use clear action items.
Don’t make it challenging on the person reading your message to know what you are asking them to do. I’ve read emails that included action items meant for other people or tasks that were hidden in the middle of sentences. Instead of assigning tasks in emails, consider using Asana. Our team has found this to be very beneficial.
4) Stop using the “CC” function to include everyone in your organization.
Lately, every time I get an email it has 9 to 11 people included in the “CC” section. What’s the deal with this? This isn’t efficient and I’ve probably wasted countless hours reading unnecessary emails. Honestly, I can’t figure out why this keeps happening. Are people doing this for accountability, to cover themselves or to let everyone else know what they are working on?
5) Reply as quickly as possible.
I think it’s much more efficient to reply quickly with a couple of short sentences than to let an email sit in my inbox for weeks. Obviously, instantaneous responses can’t be expected for emails but when someone on your team is waiting on a decision or an approval don’t just leave them hanging for days. Their email isn’t going to suddenly go away, give a response and move on.
6) Pay attention to your tone and attitude.
This isn’t rocket science but it’s probably a good idea to handle conflict and difficult situations face to face rather than through email. Mark Batterson loves to say, “The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.” This theory applies to email as well. Messages written in a negative and angry tone have a way of resurfacing. Email messages are permanent so always be mindful of what you are saying.
7) Proofread emails before sending.
It is very easy to overlook mistakes in text messages that were made because of autocorrect. I get it, we are all busy and there is no way to do a grammar check on every Instagram comment or Facebook post. At the same time, it only takes a couple of seconds to read over your message before sending and good email etiquette is still very important.
What do you think? Communication methods are changing, is email here to stay?