Why (and How) to Shorten Your Emails

In my Communication + Career posts, I'll step outside of content strategy and branding-specific advice, and discuss communication tips to advance your career. 

On average, people spend 11 seconds reading an email. That right there is a compelling reason to write less. After all, if you send a novel, odds are most of it may not even be seen.

But an even bigger reason to aim for brevity is that--more often than not--the more concise you are, the clearer your points will be. 

This can feel counter-intuitive. You may think that an example or a line that says, "In other words..." and frames your point in another way will make your argument that much stronger. Ironically, these extra lines often get in the way. They're a crutch of sorts: If your first line isn't clear, the reader has another two paragraphs to get on the same page.

So, what's my trick to shorten any email? I aim to cut everything in half. Is your email four paragraphs long? Target two. Is every paragraph four sentences long? Again, target two.

There may be some instances when you feel you absolutely cannot cut anything from an email--even after letting it sit for a bit. And that's OK. This is a skill you'll build over time; and at the very least, if you push yourself to give it a try, you'll be proofreading every email you send through a fresh lens.