Honest, transparent and respectful communication is vital when communicating with your project stakeholders. With this in mind, it’s worth taking the time to choose the best communication methods for reaching your stakeholder groups and researching best practices for utilizing each method.
Email is an incredibly common communication tool for keeping in contact with stakeholders; however, it’s not everyone’s preferred communication method, so you should never assume a stakeholder is comfortable with email.
We’ve compiled a list of tips and information to consider when writing your stakeholder emails for the stakeholders who do use email. Whether you’ll be doing massive email campaigns or sending individual emails, these tips will apply.
In this blog, we'll cover:
- Email Benefit 1. Two-way communication method
- Email Benefit 2. Immediate responses and replies
- Email Benefit 3. Think through responses
- Email Benefit 4. Add attachments and links
- Email Writing Tip 1. Timing
- Email Writing Tip 2. Don’t skip the subject line
- Email Writing Tip 3. Don’t rush
- Email Writing Tip 4. Formatting makes a statement
- Email Writing Tip 5. Emails are not private
- Bonus Tip. Templates
What are the Benefits of Using Email?
Before we jump into the tips, let’s cover a few of the benefits of utilizing email:
Benefit 1. Two-way communication method
Utilizing two-way communication methods, like email, is crucial during stakeholder engagement.
When we say “two-way communication” methods, we mean communication that allows you to reach out to your stakeholders with a channel for them to respond to you.
Sending out an information package to stakeholders with no information on how to contact you is considered a one-way communication method because, while you can contact them, they cannot contact you. One-way communication methods can certainly be useful in some situations, but it’s important to remember that your stakeholders have valuable information and opinions on your projects, and it’s beneficial to hear their feedback.
Benefit 2. Immediate responses and replies
Email can be useful as a communication channel because it can be immediate. With email, there’s no waiting on the courier or for a town hall; instead, stakeholders can provide their feedback and opinions right away, and you can also respond quickly.
Benefit 3. Think through responses
While you can send emails right away, you can also take a few extra minutes to plan out your responses.
Remember, careful and thoughtful language is vital when engaging with stakeholders. Having the ability to write out an email, check for grammar and share drafts with your team for feedback before sending the email is an excellent benefit.
Benefit 4. Add attachments and links for visual communication and fuller understanding
The ability to add attachments and links allows you to communicate in different ways.
Not everyone responds well or enjoys reading large bodies of text, so having the ability to attach various media (photos, videos, graphs, etc.) can help you communicate more clearly with your stakeholders.
5 Tips for Writing Effective Stakeholder Emails
Your content isn’t the only thing that sends a message; when you choose to send an email sends an important message too. If you’re responding to a time-sensitive email, faster is often better; however, remember to respect business hours for general emails.
Some people might feel obligated to respond to emails sent after work hours and can resent the fact that you’re emailing them during their evening family time. Just because you might work in the evening doesn’t mean everyone does (consider different time zones as well).
Tip: Some email programs, like Microsoft Outlook, allow you to schedule emails for a later date, which is useful if you write an email at night, but want to schedule it for the morning.
2. Don’t skip the subject line
Be mindful that some people receive hundreds of emails each day, and email overload is a real problem, which means emails without clear or compelling subject lines can get lost in the mix. To ensure your email isn’t skipped over, make your subject line clear and short so that it’s easy to understand what the email is about.
[Project name] Project Update – September 6, 2020
Example when feedback is required:
Reminder to provide feedback for [project name] – Sept 15, 2020
3. Don’t rush
While it can be difficult not to rush if you’re dealing with a time-sensitive email, taking a little extra time can make a significant impact on your stakeholders.
Take your time to check:
- The email addresses—is it correct/the right person?
- The spelling of the stakeholder’s name
- Tip: If you accidentally send an email with a stakeholder’s name spelt incorrectly, immediately send a follow-up apologizing for the mistake, acknowledging them with their proper spelling
- Spelling and grammar—emails with spelling mistakes and grammar errors look messy and unprofessional, reflecting poorly on your project
4. Formatting makes a statement
Use of all caps
While all caps can be used to highlight a single word or phrase, repeated use of all caps is the equivalent to shouting and should be avoided.
Avoid large paragraphs of bulk text. No one enjoys opening an email with a massive text block with no defined paragraphs, bullets or headers.
For more digestible content, make sentences short and easy to understand. Add headers and bullets where it makes sense—your readers will remember more of your content when you utilize formatting best practices.
Tip: Brevity is key! Decide on the most important message you want to convey and then say it in the shortest and clearest way possible.
5. Emails are not private
Don’t say anything in an email that you wouldn’t want other people to know or see—emails are not private. Just because you’re sending an email to one person does not mean they will not share that email with other people.
Be wary of reply-all
On the topic of sharing information, if you’re in a group email, don’t automatically “reply-all.” Take a moment to consider whether everyone in the group needs to receive the email you’re sending.
Bonus Tip 6. Utilize templates
Especially if you’ll be emailing a lot of stakeholders or are new to these types of emails, utilizing an email template can be an effective way to streamline your emails quickly and efficiently!
Tip: You can also add these to a template folder in your email (like Outlook) for quick access.
If you’re still not sure where to start with your stakeholder emails, download our free email templates for three unique stakeholder scenarios to help you get started!
In our Downloadable Email Templates, We Cover:
- The first outreach
Picking the conversation back up
Providing an update when there are no updates