A robot receives a new email in this updated historic image.

How to waste one hour and twenty minutes with a single keystroke

If you are working in a creative field, I am pretty sure that you are reliant on text communications to be successful. You need to be good at writing an email or a Slack post. If you are not, you will spur elongate communication threads that will cause you to conclude that your clients, project managers, and co-workers are stupid.

The cost and quality of the work you receive from your creatives are completely determined by the quality of your written communication with them.

The truth is in the email chain. All the good ones know this.

At Lion’s Way, we work very hard to make our internal and external communication clear and effective. We carefully craft a handoff email because that frames the nature of a review. When we ask each other for a task we give our partners and co-workers good definitions of success.

I should say that we try to. We are not always successful. It is not easy, and so even though I get a worked up when we waste clock cycles because of badly written communications, I try to remember to exercise grace.

Since we create written content for audiences all day every day, I know that getting it right is not a 3-inch putt. Depending on the circumstances, you can make it a sand trap pitch at 30 yards.

When it comes to the actual content deliverable, we are very good at making the definition of success easy, to make the work more like a short putt. That goes quicker and is more effective than work that requires heroic guesswork.

In one email, you can save a meeting or trigger a long email chain that ends up necessitating a meeting. That is an email worth spending some time with.

Checklist for Handoff Emails

These may seem obvious, but it is a good idea to run through them before you hit send:

  • Is the name of the project included? Have you reminded the reader of the goal of the asset?
  • Is there a direct ask, such as for a subject matter expert please verify that we are technically accurate.
  • Have you stated the date you need them to reply or other timeline constraints?
  • Can you direct the reader to a particular part of the asset where they can be helpful? I find that this guides their reading.

Main image credit: *Roman da Costa, CC*