The Day You Started Writing Better Emails

newsletter Jun 24, 2022


Hope you had a great week :)

This week's actionable tips center on writing emails.

An old mentor of mine once said: “If you improve your communication skills by 10%, you will double your income”.

At first I didn’t believe him. As I’ve gained more experience, though, I’ve come to see the wisdom in what he said.

Check out the diagram below ūüĎáūüŹĽ

This comes from Ray Dalio’s book
Principles: Life and Work (one of my all time favorites). 

There are four images showing four communication styles. The letters represent topic summaries, and the numbers represent details.

The number one mistake I see is in emails to
overwhelm the recipient with information. 

The same thing happens in conversations (sometimes people do this when they get nervous).

Using the diagram above, they try to cram as many of the letters and numbers into their message as possible. Stop doing this!

Your first job as a writer is to make the message easy to understand. 

Human brains have limited glucose. We don’t want to spend it deciphering a poorly thought out message.

Ray Dalio’s diagram gives two “good” frameworks for you to work with.

  1. Give high level topic summaries that add up to a whole picture
  2. Give high level topic summaries, while exploring specific details, that add up to a whole picture

Three other principles you can apply are:

  • Scannable - Make it easy for the reader to jump ahead
    • Bullets and sub bullets help group ideas together
    • Bold words attract attention and help summarize

  • Subtraction - Emails are like sculpting. You start with a big rock and keep chiseling off pieces until there is nothing left to remove
    • Pat yourself on the back every time you get an email down to one simple sentence

  • Sequence - Ensure the order of your topics, and any specifics, are well connected. 

There are certainly more good writing principles and resources out there.

Here is a link to one of my favorites: The Day You Became A Better Writer  (I borrowed the title!)

That's it! 

Today we covered:

  • My mentor said: “If you improve your communication skills by 10%, you will double your income”
  • Reviewed Ray Dalio's communication diagram
  • Understood our first job as a writers is to make the message easy to understand
  • Covered three principles to make emails easier to read

See you again next week!







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