A common term that I always see in the military is “BLUF”; Bottom Line Up Front. A synonym for this you find on the internet is “TL;DR”; Too Long; Didn’t Read. These terms are used when you want to tell people the main point of a long diatribe. People don’t have time to waste on reading your reasons and insight into an issue or an informational email. Sometimes all of that filler information is not necessary for a leader to make a decision. They just want to know cause and effect, or they are looking for the exact issue and don’t want to parse it out from a long email.
Always start your emails with a BLUF. Give people the meat and potatoes of the information up front and if they decide to dig in beyond that, then they can, but the less than 30 seconds that it takes you to write the BLUF will save everyone anywhere from 1-5 minutes of reading the entire email and extracting the information that they need out of it. Beyond the BLUF emails should be short. Don’t waste more time writing a book that no one wants to read.
Start inserting this into your emails and you will soon receive questions about what BLUF means. Instill this culture into your company to save time. There are other small actions you can take in emails to make sure people are getting the most out of your emails. Prefix your email subject or email body with the following:
- ACTION – The receiver needs to do something.
- RESPONSE – You need an answer from the receiver
When the email protocol was originally created it was not meant to be a fulfilling system, but we expect so much more out of it in today’s businesses. I have seen people expecting magic out of it. “Well, I sent you an email about it…” If you put me on the CC or BCC line, then that email was not meant for me. Make sure you are providing accurate details in your email to ensure the best response from the receivers.