Written by Beth Downey

Within a span of two hours this morning, I drafted and sent almost 15 emails on a variety of topics. I’ve scheduled two work meetings, coordinated with members of a crime task force in my neighborhood on safety initiatives, and made notes to aid others with the co-planning of an annual spring event we’re organizing and sent copy with a graphic to be distributed to promote the event online across social channels. The common denominator is writing clear communications and I have a few hard and fast rules that guide me.


Be direct.

Almost everyone I know is busy. No one has time to read a rambling email. Get to the point as fast as possible. If you’re looking for information, ask that question directly and succinctly. For example, I’m seeking resources and quotes for custom-branded plastic glassware for an event. I sent an email to a contact who hosts and produces an annual block party each summer in Nashville. He responded quickly with a phone number and email for me.

Take Notes

Often, not all the information is saved in one email. Make notes and write things down, especially when involved in a phone conversation that aligns with a follow up email. The magic is in the details.  Once the phone call is done, you can review the particulars that were discussed verbally and have everything in writing in a follow up email for everyone to review.

As well, online tools allow for everyone to document and share their points of view. Personally, I prefer Google Office because it saves to the cloud. I can share an entire folder or simply one document. I also “comment” on items for others who are reviewing my inputs to be clear about what I am thinking and/or if I have a question.

Be polite.

Just like your Mother told you, say “please” and “thank you” when the situation warrants. People appreciate being appreciated. Emojis are fine for familiar banter with friends; within a professional setting, they seem out of place and awkward.


We are now living in the information age and clear communications allow us to cut through the clutter and allow our messaging to not only be heard by our audience, but more importantly be understood.