page title icon 16: Better project communication – email

An easy way to structure your email comms to make them more effective

What does everyone have not enough of? Time. And what does everyone have too much of? Email! Another email arrives in your inbox. It’s fairly long and it’s not immediately clear what the key message is. Read on below…

Show notes and links:

In this project management podcast we look at a project communications approach which is especially suitable for large groups and product rollouts. Email is often used for this purpose, so we show you an email structure which is more more effective than the ones you may be used to.

Let’s look at a made-up example ‘old-style’ email and then one using our improved ‘5Ws’ approach.

Original Email

As many of you will have seen from recent communications the company took a decision to upgrade our intranet. We’ve decided to move from our current platform of fab intranet software to super intranet software and this will help us deliver you more relevant content and information as well as as being easier to manage. With the recent company merger it’s just been too difficult to try to migrate one internet to another so we took the decision to to start from a greenfield platform. 

We’ve been really busy in the background and our team has just finished user acceptance testing so we’ll be ready to roll out to different groups in the next 3-months. This is being led by our team in Sweden and they have been the pilot users for the new intranet. we really positive about what we going to bring you and I’m sure you’re excited about the new product.

Whilst we are migrating all the existing intranet pages across we will need to do some restructuring so you may not find the information in the same place as the current intranet. We’ll provide signposts and a search facility so you can find what you need. If you need more information our intranet team has developed a question and answer webpage which will hopefully answer all of your questions. You can find this at www.exampleco.com/intranetFAQ. Thank you for your attention and we will be contacting you nearer the time to provide more information about what the rollout will involve and what you’ll have to do.

What is wrong with this email?

  • It’s too long
  • There is too much ‘padding’ content – words which don’t really add any value
  • The key messages are not clear
  • It is not immediately clear if the recipient has to do anything

The 5Ws Version

This version of the email comms says the same information but in a much more conscise and structured format. This means it’s much quicker for the recipient to read. It’s also clear if they need to take action or if this is just for information. It is called the ‘5Ws’ because each sentence starts with a ‘W’.

5 is not a rigid amount – you could reduce this to only 3 or expand up to 6 or 7 if you needed to. This approach also works really well for presentation slides.

Example 5Ws Email

What is happening?
We are rolling out our new company intranet
Why are we doing this?
Our existing intranet is outdated on a legacy platform. With the recent merger it was too difficult to combine the intranets of both companies. The new platform will be better and easier to manage.
When is this happening?
In the next 3 months. Our team in Sweden will be the pilot users and they are migrating now.
What will be the impact?
We are restructuring the information so you may find some documents are no longer in the same place. We’ll provide clear instructions on how you can find or search, and we won’t be deleting any content. The intranet will have a new URL (web address).
What do I need to do?
This email is just for information and you don’t need to do anything. We’ll contact you nearer the date of the migration about the action you’ll need to take to cut across.

If you have any questions right now you can check out our comprehensive FAQ at www.exampleco.com/intranetFAQ

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