How to Write an Email (No, Really): Victoria Turk at TEDxAthens (Transcript)

What about your other option, “BCC”?

Now, “BCC” can be a bit sneaky, so there’s only a few specific cases where you should use it. One is to protect your recipient’s identity if you’re emailing sensitive information to multiple people, for example.

Another is to avoid a reply-all-pocalypse. We’ve all been there: someone sends an email to too many people, people all start hitting “Reply All” – chaos.

Good use of “BCC.” And for extra credit, an absolutely top email etiquette move is to move someone to “BCC” if their input is no longer required on an ongoing thread.

How this works is if the thread’s getting a bit out of control and you know someone is not needed to respond, you send one last message moving them to BCC. They’re blissfully removed from any future chaos.

And you are an email etiquette superhero – you’ve just selflessly saved their inbox from unnecessary emails. We’re just about ready to send our email. Or are we?

I’ve saved probably the most important thing till last because when you send an email should be as much a consideration as what you put in it.

First things first, if it’s a work email, stick to work hours – no 2 a.m. emailing in your pajamas. One of the major causes of email stress is that we can’t get away from it. It demands so much from us, especially now that we’re all walking around with mini computers in our pocket. We can check email anywhere and anytime.

But instead of feeling free, we feel trapped. We’re expected to be always contactable. We can never leave. The only way to buck this trend is to start setting boundaries.

Unless you’re a heart surgeon, you really probably don’t need to be on call all the time. In fact, it’s probably better if you’re not – I’ve checked my work email in some incredibly inappropriate places. So just stick to work hours.

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Now, you could say that it’s on the recipient to decide when they check their email. You can send an email at 2 a.m. but they don’t have to answer until the following day.

The problem is that’s a lot easier said than done. When you’ve got an unread email notification burning a hole in your pocket, it’s very tempting to check it. Therefore it’s on the sender to set a reasonable norm and exhibit good email etiquette in doing so.

So that’s our email completed. I hope you’ll join me in spreading good email etiquette and making our digital lives a little bit easier and friendlier.

So all that’s left for me to do then is to sign off.

Thank you!


Resources for Further Reading:

This is What Happens When You Reply to Spam Email by James Veitch (Transcript)

The Lost Art of Letter Writing: Elspeth Penny at TEDxSWPS (Transcript)

Hannah Gadsby: Three Ideas. Three Contradictions. Or Not. (Transcript)

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