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SLeeting & BLeeting

Help a Brother Out...

Good business writers are like drivers who turn on their headlights before it gets dark. Early evening is the most dangerous time of day to drivePoor drivers think that as long as they can see outside, there's no point in turning on their headlights. They don't consider the hazard from another driver's perspective. But good drivers realize that others might have a hard time seeing them, so they turn on their headlights. (Lame drivers turn on their parking lights.)

Good writers, like good drivers, consider others when they do their thing. If there is (1) something the reader needs to do or (2) something the reader needs to know, the writer makes that clear from the very beginning. And the writer doesn't pile the rest of the writing around these key points and risk obscuring them. They make sure the reader can see them.

Perhaps the most common medium for poor business writing is email. Email is not the productivity enhancer everyone thinks it is. If you use your email inbox as a to-do list (and most business professionals do), anyone can task you from anywhere on the planet. And they try. So we need to help each other out by tailoring our emails for inbox efficiency.

Subject-Line Tweeting (SLeeting) & Bottom-Line Tweeting (BLeeting) reflect the growing art of cramming the essence of an email message into the email subject line. The goal is for business professionals and students (*hint hint*) to provide each other with email communications that can be read and triaged in the inbox without opening them. The challenge is to discern what is really essential and express it in 15 words or less.

A cloud snowing

SLeeting (also known as EOM) is the ideal. The entire message is whittled down to 15 words or less and entered in the subject line with nothing in the body at all. For example:
  • AvuncuLab support group meeting is changed to 2:30-4:00pm Friday (EOM)
  • Quarterly sales reports are due June 15; see FAQ page for details (EOM)
  • Email Dr. Price and let him know which section of capstone you want (EOM)
  • I'm back in town; go to to book an appointment with me (EOM)
(Those last two are actual messages I sent to students recently, though I didn't tag them with "EOM.")

This is also known as the EOM method, because you're supposed to add "EOM" at the end of the subject line to let the reader know that it's the end of the message. There's no point in opening the email. Adding "EOM" has an additional benefit for Gmail users. Adding "EOM" with or without parentheses at the end of the subject line (or just "eom" seems to work) prevents Gmail from alerting you that you've left the body blank. This is Gmail's way of endorsing (or at least accommodating) the practice.

Of course, most of the time you can't cut everything down to a 15-word-or-so subject line. But it's a terrific goal. You'll be surprised how much yap you can cut out of your professional emails when you try to tweet them in the subject line.


BLeeting. When you have to use the email body, you can still help your colleague out by communicating the essence or BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) in the subject line. The reader will still have to open the email, but seeing the BLUF in the subject line helps the reader screen and prioritize the emails that must be read. (This is the practice of inbox triage I mentioned earlier.) And it helps focus the reader's attention when reading the full message.

1. If there is an action that must be performed, place that in the BLUF.
  • Performance goals are due to me by email July 31st. Here are the instructions.
  • CHANGE: Dial 97 to get a line off-campus, not just 9. (Then you can explain why in the body of the email.)
2. If the message is informational, tell the readers what's important about it--why should they read it?
  • We're switching to MyUTPB in 2015. Here's what it will do for us.
  • Bribing management professors works! Details inside. (Note: Placing exclamation points in your email subject line ensures your messages always get read with enthusiasm.)

***** This article satisfies Squid Commo Objective (SCO) #3 - Stop wasting working people's time *****