I recall a time when emails were the preferred means of communication. Email was widely adopted, both for social and business purposes. Maybe this is why most people send lengthy emails that can easily be confused for an essay.

At the moment, there are more avenues for social engagement, such as texting and social media. On the other hand, emails have become the dominant means of communication for people in business. With this in mind, you need to make sure the emails you write will be read and understood.

The key to attracting anyone’s attention through writing is by using engaging and persuasive prose. Good prose is welcome by a busy reader. In addition, keeping your content short and to the point increases the chance of getting a response.

Let’s look at how to compose the perfect email.

Brief Introduction

Busy people do not have time for lengthy formalities. I know, because I don’t. Kindly reserve those for the time when you meet in a social setting. Keep the introduction short.

A good example would be, “It was great to meet you at the Cancer Awareness event on (a certain date)”. Do not start by giving lengthy explanations about how you met, what you were wearing, or what you did at that event.

Example

Hi NAME,

It was nice chatting with you on Twitter yesterday LINK TO TWITTER DISCUSSION. I wanted to connect via email and discuss DISCUSSED TOPIC further.

Best regards,

Tomas
Lifestyle entrepreneur and blogger at tomaslau.com

If you are absolutely sure that the recipient might not remember you, then leave your credentials in your email signature. This is a good way to avoid misunderstandings, plus it keeps the body of your email as short as possible.

Signatures are supposed to include three things: a link to your website—if you have one—your job title, and your name. Also, depending on the nature of your business, you can include links to your social media accounts for an easy followup.

Use the Five Sentence Rule

According to Guy Kawasaki, an American marketing specialist and author, more than five sentences in an email are a waste of time. In addition, less than five sentences are often regarded rude and abrupt.

The five sentence rule ensures that you answer a question with each sentence. In the first sentence, you should aim to introduce yourself in a relevant and short way. Of course, you can skip this step if you already have a relationship with the recipient.

The second sentence should explain what you want from the client. The essence of why you sent the email should be captured here. Explain what you expect from the recipient and provide them with any relevant information they might require to respond to your email.

The third sentence should be about why the recipient should bother to reply to your email, what’s in it for them? Busy people often have multiple things running in their mind. Remind them of the importance they have to your course or request and how they stand to gain from it. Remember that you might not be the only one sending an email addressing the issue at hand.

The fourth sentence should be an open-ended request. These often inspire open-ended responses. Be very specific and tell your recipient when you need them to act. No matter how busy a person is, when you include this aspect in an email, it prompts them to act, knowing that a response is important to you.

In addition, it also gives you a sense of professionalism and urgency that is respected by equally busy people. Include a reason for the deadline too, if possible, but make sure that it is not vague or unrelated unless it affects both you and the recipient directly.

Lastly, your email should include the next step. This part is pretty easy considering that the previous sentence is a deadline to reply. Here is where you include the reason for a hasty reply or a reply by a certain date. The whole point of the five sentence rule is not to make your email as short as possible, but rather to write as little as you can to get your point across clearly and draw a response.

Use the Active Voice

Active voice is more direct and urgent than passive voice, and it should help you get a response from busy people because it stimulates action and accountability. The passive voice, on the other hand, gives an impression of an object being acted on. The passive voice insinuates that things can be done by themselves while the active voice takes responsibility. This site gives a good explanation of the differences between the two.  I also recommend using the Hemingway App, a free online tool to make your writing bold and clear. It detects passive voice and other errors to improve your writing.

Example

Don’t use the passive voice: The report needs to be written and submitted before the holidays.

Do use the active voice: I need you to write and submit the report before the holidays.

Proofread Your Email

There are no emails that get turned down quicker than those with grammatical errors. In this day and age, a busy person is often associated with an important role in society. A teacher or a managing director in a respected company has little to no patience for an email with grammar and spelling errors.

After scripting your email, carefully proofread it aloud to avoid any misunderstanding. In addition, proofreading ensures that your message is clear and gives you an insight how you sound to the recipient. Delete any unwanted words or paragraphs as you proofread. I highly recommend using Grammarly.

Consider Hiring a Writer

Writers make a living on conveying messages that are clear and enticing to the reader. Thus, you might consider hiring a writer to help you convey the message you wish to send via email. It may cost you, but their expertise will give you a better chance of getting a reply. You can find talented and experienced writers at Freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr or iWriter.

Following the above-mentioned rules will greatly improve the chances of getting a reply from even the busiest person on the planet.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Tomas Laurinavicius
Adventurous blogger and entrepreneur from Lithuania. Traveling the world with a mission to empower 1 million people to change lifestyle for good. Featured in TIME, Forbes, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Observer, The Next Web, and many other publications.