If your email was only one line long

You may have noticed one theme around here is communication. If you want to transition out of technology, and into business, you need to communicate differently.

Scientists and engineers are used to technical communication: long prose with lots of detail.

Business folks are used to business communication: short prose with a clear call to action.

There are exceptions to these trends, of course. But there is such a thing as “engineering speak” versus “business speak”.

Let’s focus on email. Here’s my recommendation for today: think about what your email would look like if it was only a single line. Would it be a question? Would it be a declaration? Would it be about you? Would it be about someone else?

Think about what that one line would be. And start your email with that line.

If you need more detail, add it. The idea, though, is that anyone who reads your email knows what you want to communicate after the first sentence. If they skim the rest, they still got the point.

It’s challenging. You’ll want to craft a long introduction, to set the stage for the big reveal.

Bad news. Don’t do that.

Cut out as many words and sentences as you can. While your technical audience has the discipline, through habit, to follow all that you share, your business stakeholders won’t. Their attention spans are shorter. They have less appreciation for technical jargon.

Say what you want to say, then stop. Follow up your emails with a phone call or face-to-face chat, if you think sharing more detail is necessary. But don’t force people to read a dissertation to get to the five word question you have for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *