This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*
Too Many Cooks (or in this case, recipients)
What have cooks got to do with anything? What am I talking about? Well, here is what I’m talking about: ‘too many cooks spoil the broth‘. In essence, this means that if too many people are involved, no one knows who is meant to do what: “have you added the salt, do I need to add the salt? I’ll just throw a little extra in to be safe”.
The same thing happens when you include everyone in the To box when addressing your emails. If you pile everyone into the To box then those you are writing to don’t know what their role is meant to be: are they meant to reply? reply all (this requires a whole post of its own!)? ignore it? wait until someone else replies first? HELP!
Mass all your recipients in the To field: DON’T DO THAT
When you lump everyone in that one box you generally create confusion, and here is what happens (or doesn’t happen) as a result:
- No one knows who is expected to act
- No one replies (because they are waiting for someone else to do so)
- Some people reply, but forget to ‘reply all’, so only you get the information
- Some people do ‘reply all’ but forget that they are speaking to everyone, and inadvertently cause offense
- Everyone replies, at the same time, with differing ideas and opinions – leaving you to sort out the ensuing mess
There are other scenarios but we haven’t got the time. So, instead of being the architect of the above (or worse):
DO THIS INSTEAD: Clearly address your emails
The genius of email is that it offers up terrific options to organize your audience. This not only helps you sort out who needs the information but also helps your audience understand their roles. Couple this with a clearly worded email (letting every one know their part) and you will be on to a winner.