Randy Dean's Timely Tips

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Timely Tips JUNE 2009: Urgent E-mail Subject Lines

I have to give my props to my old high school tennis buddy Frank L. for the inspiration for this great tip. I hadn't heard from Frank for years, but we found each other again through Facebook recently. Frank read what I was doing with e-mail, and sent a quick note on how he titles urgent e-mails that became the inspiration for this month's tip.

If you have an e-mail that needs IMMEDIATE response, use "911" in the subject line: something like, "911: Need Your Immediate Yes/No Decision on Meeting Tomorrow" This will help your receivers know that this is an e-mail to give priority attention. Of course, as I mention in my training programs, if you ever SEND a "911" e-mail, I believe you should also CALL all recipients to verify that they received the e-mail and understand the immediate urgency. You need to let them know an immediate response e-mail is now in their inbox, and also deal with any undeliverable e-mail issues. Also, if they aren't at their desk (and thus can't get the e-mail), you as the sender need to know that -- then you can use other methods to try to "close the communication loop".
If you are sending an urgent e-mail requiring quick response (but NOT immediate response), use "URGENT" in the subject line -- something like "URGENT EOD: Please get me the spreadsheet with 2Q fiscal projections for tomorrow's meeting." EOD of course stands for "End of Day". You could also use "1TT" for "First Thing Tomorrow". As I mentioned, these are for e-mails with tasks or responses needed in a short, but not immediate, time frame. If you aren't giving them much time to respond, once again, a courtesy call or voice mail will help to also close that communication loop.
If you are sending a normal priority e-mail, either use the word "NORMAL" at the start of your subject line, or just write the subject line as you normally would. Of course, it is always good etiquette to clearly state the reason the person is receiving the e-mail as well as any embedded tasks/desired actions AND deadlines in the first 2-3 sentences of the body copy, even with "normal" priority e-mails. That way, they know how to appropriately slot this new request/action into their existing prioritized task list.
I think using "911", "URGENT", and "NORMAL" will greatly help your message recipients with appropriate management and response to your messages/requests. You might need to train them a bit so they know how to administer this new "subject line regimen" (you could just forward this message to them!), but if you can get your team to use this technique, more items will be acted upon in an appropriate and timely manner.

Thanks again Frank for the inspiration! A great idea here!

A Reminder Note Tuesday

Yes, I'll be sending another e-mail first thing Tuesday (maybe even Monday night!) reminding you about the launch on Amazon. I'd really appreciate a big response from all of you -- and encourage you to take advantage of the amazing bonuses provided by my launch partners. Please feel free to forward this e-mail/information out to your list/contacts too. Watch for my e-mail on Tuesday!

Until then, Stay Timely!


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