A lesson in e-mail

“Dad, I just sent you an email I’m working on. Will you read it over for me? Remember the company I work for is selling its business at the Lexington location?”


“Well, the manager asked me to write an e-mail message to send to the customers to let them know about the ownership change and that they’ll be working with a new company, not us. Could you check it to make sure it’s grammatically correct and makes sense?”


“I need it in an hour.”

“Okay. I’ll go open it now.”

I read the message, which was about 8 paragraphs long. The tone was friendly, and the message was clear. The grammar was fine. I started to insert a few comments suggesting a few minor things. Then I read it again. It needs work on organization, I thought. It’s 8 paragraphs, which is a lot to ask someone to read in e-mail, but it didn’t flow—wasn’t well connected. Each paragraph was about a new topic, but there were no transitions. It needed something.

I stopped inserting comments and decided to rewrite it in a question-and-answer format, like FAQs. I created about 5 questions, and then I revised and moved the text around to form answers. For example, after an introduction announcing the change in ownership, I inserted a question:

Can I still have my event at the Lexington location?

Yes, . . .

Will the policies and prices be the same?

Yes, . . .

And so on. I was feeling quite proud of myself, and I sent the rewrite. I called the next day to ask how things had gone.

“Thanks, dad. Everyone liked the Q & A format, but they decided we should call each customer instead of sending an email.”


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