Email is a great vehicle to communicate. Still, because it is sent so rapidly, there are drawbacks to this form of communication. After all, studies show that a whopping 50% of all emails are misunderstood (see here and the infographic below)! Likewise, people send email, and then realize after the fact that they did not bcc everyone. It’s for this reason (and certainly more reasons as well) that Gmail has the undo send option (see here). As a rabbi and educator, you are a public personality, and if you have Gmail, we encourage you to install this feature into your account.
In light of the above, we have come up with the following handy checklist of questions everyone should ask themselves before simply sending out an email.
Feel free to print it out, share it with your colleagues, leave it on your desk, and refer to it the next time you send out a email/email newsletter blast to your students and congregants.
Answer the following questions:
1) Does Your “From:” line have your name spelled correctly? Remember, you are a rabbi and/or educator. Your name should appear capitalized. In other words, people should see your name as Rabbi Ploni Almoni and not as ploni almoni, p. almoni or pa. You represent a shul, kollel, or school, and having your name appear as such does not bode well for you—and especially not the institution.
2) Is your “Subject” line the right length?: It should not exceed be 5-8 words or 40 characters including spaces.
3) Does your “Subject” line accurately reflect what you are offering or focus on any benefits?: If your Thursday night class on the parsha is going to be capped off with cholent for all in attendance, let people know!
4) Is your email personalized with the recipient’s first name last name or both, if appropriate?: If not, you may come across as someone who isn’t warm and personable. As a rabbi and educator that goes against everything that you represent. Make sure that your email doesn’t read like a template so that you don’t inadvertently turn off the recipient of the email for life!
5) Is your email copy clear and concise? Do you have something in this email that you will regret putting into writing? I’m certain that you wouldn’t want to show up at a class with a big grease stain on your shirt. That would be downright embarrassing—and would not paint you and your organization in the best of light. The same is true with your email. Email is something that could easily be forwarded on to people (who may include family, friends, journalists, etc.). If you are sloppy with what you write, it could end up haunting you!
6) Have you used appropriate graphics while also making good use of white space?: You don’t have to be a graphic designer to see that your email looks sloppy. Let’s face it. If you can’t send out an email with an image, we recommend that you a) ask for help b) hire someone to help you/set up a template c) consider not sending out an email with image(s). In fact, doing so will look a lot more crisp and professional then sending something with an image that just doesn’t do you justice.
7) Have you proofread the “From:” line, “Subject:” line and email copy thoroughly? Don’t send that email just yet! Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Proofreading starts with the first line that the recipient is going to see. Sadly, this line is often overlooked. Once you have approved of that line, quickly read through your email. You are now one step closer to sending!
8) Have you checked all links to be sure they work properly? If you are sending a link to people so that they can make a donation or sign up for a class/trip, you are going to want to make sure that the link works. Don’t be the person who forgets this fine detail, and then wonder why no one seemed interested.
9) BONUS: See the infographic below that further highlights the state of email communication.
Mazel Tov. You can now send your email!