Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I see myself at two exteremes sometime i am in a state of mind were i can manage to read a real lengthy blog / mail/ note/ document and then there are days where i cant manage to look past the first few lines and the graphics well. Suggestion make the content of the documents/blogs / mails more prcise and concise, below are excerpts of a blog which suggests just that,

Don't Make Me Read
Okay. I admit it. I'm not the world's most concise writer. I often go on and on and on when I shouldn't.

But today, I got an email from someone that makes me want to make a very specific point:

If your email is more than 3-4 paragraphs, I'm probably not going to read it.

The longer I "live" in the world of email, the more intolerant I am of long-winded text. I'm growing impatient with reading long documents, plowing through long email threads, reading long magazine articles, and browsing text-heavy web sites. Give me the gist. Give me what I need to know. Give me some charts or pretty pictures. And if I need more information, tell me where I can get it.

The sad fact is, though, that a lot of well-intentioned employees (I used to be one of them) think that lots of text proves lots of thought, and longer means better. I learned that if when someone can't get to the meat of the issue, it's overly-complex, or worst, not thought through.

Bill Jensen gives some good advice in "Simplicity Survival." Keep your emails "above the line" (so you don't have to scroll), and only write what you want the recipient to know, feel, and do.

Most business decisions are pretty simple, when you get to the heart of the matter. If you can't tell me what I need to know in the first paragraph or two, an email is probably going to get deleted (or almost as bad, put into my "read me" folder--I should rename it to my "pretend-to-plan-to-read-me-but-delete-later" folder).

There are very few exceptions: 1) if it's something that's completely relevant to me, and I need the information; 2) if your writing style is engaging and you're telling a story; or 3) you do a great job outlining the email, with titles that lead me to relevant content; 4) it's an email from my wife, my mom, BillG or SteveB.


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