How's your attention? Spread out? Stretched? Exhausted?
It's crucial to remember that you're not the only one. When anthropologists look bac at this period, they will probably call this not the Iron Age or Age of Information, but the "Age of Distraction."
Which makes getting people's attention for what's important to you a very valuable and necessary skill.
I've spent a lifetime learning how to grab attention -- both as a university teacher and as a screenwriter -- where for me, capturing the imagination in the opening shots is something I consider one of the writer's happiest challenge.
Below are five quick principles I use to write engaging emails that get read.
Think about it -- wouldn't it feel nice to have someone tell you, "I enjoyed reading your email!" Or -- "I'm so glad you emailed me!" -- rather than receiving what most people get -- that long, empty silence of non-response.
If so, read on, and put these to use...
1. Determine the Single Highest Purpose of Your Email
We're distracted by Facebook, Youtube and a thousand websites.
But we're also distracted by all our thousands of priorities - mostly second and third level priorities.
Before you even begin writing an email - stop as ask yourself - what is the SINGLE #1 thing you want this email to do.
Think hard and choose one.
Is this an email to check up on a friend and share warmth? Are you emailing to persuade? To query? To connect? To flatter?
Now take that priority and reduce it to the #1 ACTION you want your reader to take.
If you are querying - be sure to include a CLEAR querying question and a call to action for them to respond.
Clarity not only serves you, but makes their next action easier. An easy yes or no question is a great way to get a conversation started, rather than asking for a complex explanation.
For example, "For all these reasons, I think I could bring a ton of value to your conference and I'd love to speak at any of the sessions. Please ping me back today and tell me if I should keep that date open - until we have a chance to talk."
The golden rule here: Make it easy for them. So, Iif I want to schedule a meeting with someone, I will always just include my Meetme link - which puts a scheduled call time right into both our calendars.
2. Does Your Subject Line Capture Attention?
Every newspaperman knows the law: "if it bleed it leads."
The subject line must hook your reader -- causing them to open the email. Because before you can even get a response from someone, they've got to make that magic click and open your email!
How can you accomplish this easily?
Break out the white noise. Get creative. Think of subject lines that YOU would click open.
Ex: I swore I wouldn't do this again...
Urgent: Need your response by end of the afternoon
If this doesn't make you laugh...
You + Me + London = ?
Talk at 3 or 4?...
3. Is Your Email Readable?
Having a thick block of text filled with multiple comments, questions, and so on is not the way to go. Nor are long sentences. They feel like oncoming tidal waves. And they scare readers.
So what's a solution? Go chef - and slice and dice your words in bite-sized segments that's digestible for people to read.
One-lined paragraphs, for instance.
Notice the articles that you actually read and enjoy (like this one!) and notice how there are small paragraphs. Not too short and not too long.
Each paragraph a jab or punch. Packed with meaning.
4. Remember to Be Human
Be warm. Be spontaneous. Be fun. Be someone who wonders.
Basically... don't be a robot.
I don't care what profession or field your in, you and your reader experience love, loss, fear, yearning, nostalgia and hope.
And it always helps to connect - briefly - as humans before getting to business. That's why we chat about kids or traffic or the weekend when we show up for meetings.
Be quick, and use any social media clues as material...
"Hey I see you had a killer trip to the Bahamas. Lucky man - you guys look beautiful and happy together..."
"Well, I'll be wearing black for the foreseeable after last night's playoff game, but I have a suspicion this deal you and I are putting together will bring some joy back to Mudville..."
David Rockefeller famously brought a dresser sized rolodex everywhere he flew (private plane) with updated cards on everyone in his business and diplomatic world - kids, schools, marriages, deaths, promotions and all life-changes. And he'd open up every meeting on a personal note.
Everyone was impressed and touched by his human touch.
5. Read Your Email -- Aloud
This may sound strange but reading your email before you hit that 'send' button is gold. Why?
Because not only are you re-reading your email to make sure you've punctuated correctly and have good grammar, you're also getting a feel for how the other person may interpret your email.
You might have come off stuffy. Or too casual. Or maybe something wasn't clear.
Remember unlike person-to-person conversation there are no body language cues for us to pick up on.
Scan for any fat in the prose. See if you can cut any parts that clutter your #1 Priority for sending the email. Nobody wants people to drone on.
Remember - like any human interaction, you want your email to be a pleasant experience - and a pleasant memory.
And beyond human warmth, the most pleasant gift you can offer is to make it easy for your reader to take a quick action and move on to their next task.
They'll love you for it. And are far more likely to get back to you with the response you want.
Best Selling Author, Emmy-Nominated Producer, Screenwriter and Entrepreneur, Adam Gilad leads a community of over 80,000 men and women on their quest to create love and a bold, inspired life. Having served as a Stanford Humanities Center Graduate Research Fellow and host of National Lampoon Radio, Adam blends a bracing mix of research, humor and global wisdom traditions to help men and women break through the habits blocking their ability to open into love and freedom.