This prompts the question: What exactly are the skills needed to manage an effective email?
Most of us assume that writing is the one and only skill required because, on the surface, writing is the obvious skill.
But are we being misled by this? Does writing an email only demand good writing skills?
Moreover, since we can all talk, and we can keyboard, we reason we can all write effective emails, which is clearly arguable.
It’s like buying a camera. We can all own a camera, but can we honestly say we can shoot exceptional photos, even good ones?
It’s not enough to “point and shoot,” you need skills. And with email you need more than just “writing.”
For a start, email does not demand writing skills in the conventional sense.
Although, if you write well, you possess an advantage, since you are nimble with and knowledgeable about words. You possess a better chance of successfully mastering the medium. email is more a written “conversation.” You are making a written record of your conversations.
email is decidedly more verbal than literary. It’s casual, and somewhat informal.
Beyond writing skills, in our experience, other skills are needed. These include:
- Managing time
- Managing risk
- Working with text for visual effect
- Working with words for clearer meaning
- Fine-tuning language for positive, not negative impact
- Knowing how the email medium works, plus sensitivity to and knowledge of your audience’s mindset
- Applying sound work experience (and common sense) to decide what’s appropriate to write (and transmit) and what’s not. And when to use the medium and when to choose another medium.
Finally, and vitally, we need the skills to compensate for email’s major shortcoming: It lacks the human touch. So how do we compensate for not being face-to-face?
Only when we can use all these skills together will we ensure communication that is effective and potentially not disruptive.
Writing an email provides the ultimate multi-tasking and risk management challenge.