Rule of 5:Email


My mom is an english teacher – so early on in life I began writing those 5 part essays: Introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion.  I recently began studying how this communication model can apply to a host of professional communications.  So I am going to spend a few posts about what I am learning in this effort to keep communication clear, crisp, and concise (because I can tend to get wordy… I know, surprise!).  Some of the genesis for this idea began at the Guy Kawasaki’s Change the World blog.  I begin today with email:

I was taught to write essays and letters in school.  I didn’t send my first email until college.  But, like all thirty somethings or older, I have had to learn that email is an entirely different animal.  In fact, I often err on the wordy side… putting too much into email.  If it really takes all those words – pick up a phone or schedule a meeting.  Most emails should be 5 sentences or shorter:

1. Who I am.
2. What I want.  (Why am I writing the email?!?)
3. Why I need it/Why I should get it (What is the reasoning?)
4. When I need it by. (Deadlines… everyone needs deadlines.)
5. Thanks and closing remark.

I am trying to work on this discipline in my life… for all of you to whom I have sent Magnum sized emails – sorry! 


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