Please find attached…

Would you enter someone else’s space and open with “please find attached”? This is just one of the many simple but thought-provoking questions Elaine Stirling puts in front of the reader in her book The Corporate Storyteller – A writing manual style for the brave new business leader. (I highly recommend it.) One of the book’s main messages is that in written communication you should treat your reader as though you are entering their space, because you actually are.

This book will be useful especially to anyone who writes a lot of emails (yes, most likely you), and who longs to receive clear, human replies. Here are two more gems about email correspondence:

“Open with warmth; close with warmth. Let the stuff in the middle be factual.”

“Like many in the business world, Sarah has a permanent signature line with contact information and multiple phone numbers. Contact info is technology’s equivalent of letterhead, which used to sit at the top of traditional stationery.”

Parting question #1: Do people actually read letterhead?

Parting question #2: Why are so many of those permanent email signatures often as long or longer than the message itself? The ones I get usually look something like this:

My first & last name
My position
The name of my department
The name of my firm/business
Our witty tagline:
Our web address:
Phone:  555 555-5555
Fax: 555 555-5555
Toll Free: 1-800 555-5555
The quote of the day:
And just when you think they are done:
Please consider the environment before printing this email.