Saturday, December 4, 2010

Write A Great Subject Line - Part 2 in a Series - Managing Email for Teachers and Administrators

message Icon, Post with wings.Image via WikipediaTo begin to manage your email, the first thing needed is to MODEL what you want those who email you to do!  Yes, that's right!  You are going to put into practice the very things you wish that people emailing you used because it would make your email easier to manage!

Let's begin with a very specific step.  

For the next 30 days, write a great subject line. 

Of course, to do this, you have to know what makes a great subject line.  Here's the trick:  Summarize the message - do not describe it.

Here's an example to help clarify:

Bad Subject
Lesson Plan Information

Good Subject
Lesson Plans Due Dec. 15th To Dept. Chairs (EOM)

You see, people scan through their emails and read the subject lines first.  Write a relevant subject line!

Here are some things to avoid with your subject line:
  • Don't use words like "Hi" or other greetings
  • Don't write long subject lines
  • Don't write vague or too general subject lines
  • Don't leave the subject line blank
  • Don't use the subject line to try to interest the reader or make them curious so they will open the email.  (I have to admit, I'm guilty of this one!)
In other words, get to the meat of the email in your subject line.

In fact, if your subject line says it all (like in the example above), consider writing something like which stands for "End of Message" and indicates to the reader that there is no need to open the message.

Now, think for a minute how much this would help you as the recipient of the email.  If you were the teacher who received the email with the subject as follows:

Lesson Plans Due Dec. 15th To Dept. Chairs (EOM)

Would you have the information you needed in a quick and efficient way and be grateful to the sender of the message for saving your time?

So, that's your first step in the journey!  Begin writing great subject lines today!  Now, when I finish this email, I'm going to send a message to the folks at my campus and let them know that I will be doing my best to write efficient subject lines to help ease their email workload and that I will be using to indicate there is no need to open the email!  

As the series continues, I'll be actively doing everything that I'm writing here and sharing feedback as we progress!  Please do the same! 
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