Compose new email message screen. Blank window for writing e-mail. Internet correspondence concept

By Wayne Turmel

Email is considered the biggest communication problem for remote teams. Either the sheer volume of email steals our time and saps our productivity, or the way emails are written don’t get the point across, and cause more rework and email, leading back to problem one. I’m exhausted just writing that, but it’s what we live every single day. To make your life simpler, here’s a single test to see if your email is helping solve the problem or making things worse.

If you want people to read your email, make it a priority, and find past correspondence when you need it, ask yourself this:

Does the subject line of the message actually tell the reader what it is about and why they should care?

Let’s take an example. There’s an email going back and forth on your team about the Jackson account, and you do what everyone does and hit “reply all.” The subject says it’s about the Jackson Account. Shouldn’t that be enough?

But think about what your readers will see. Are you just saying thank you? Do you have valuable information that can end the thread once and for all? Do you have a question that needs an immediate answer? Or (and this happens a lot): Do you have an entirely new question, but it’s for the same people so it’s easier to just piggyback the new question onto a previous thread?

Now imagine that you take that same thread but this time add the words “new information” or “need immediate answer.” To the “Re:” message. Would it change how people respond? Would it get their attention?

People would be able to properly assess your message, and maybe most importantly, know how to find it in the endless thread if they need to refer to it later.

Taking an extra ten seconds (Time yourself. Seriously.) may save a lot of work, rework and stress.

For another great resource on making your email more productive and effective, download a copy of our free Special Report, Stop Email Overload: 3 Simple Steps to Tame the Email Monster.


Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute
Wayne Turmel, co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute.

Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in

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