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Writing Tip: Use a Forecasting Subject Line

By: Stu Tanquist

When you want your emails to get things done, begin with a forecasting subject line. This simple step will turn your readers from passive to active. It often determines whether your email gets read or not.

Forecast the Bottom Line of Your Email in the Subject Line
Forecasting subject lines tell the reader what you’re going to tell them. In other words, they forecast the business application of your email; they tell readers how your email affects them.

Effective subject lines offer more than a general topic description. Assume for a moment you work in human resources. Which of the following is more likely to pique your interest, a topic subject line or a forecasting subject line?

  1. “Benefits Plan”
  2. “Recommendation for Enhancing Our Benefits Plan”

The Power of Forecasting Subject Lines
People are naturally curious. Consider the previous example. By disclosing the business application of the email, readers will wonder, “What is the recommendation? How could the benefit plan be enhanced?” These questions grab the reader’s

Examples of Forecasting Subject Lines
Use the following subject line openers to enhance reader interest:

  • Review of…
  • Request for…
  • Proper Handling of…
  • Recommended Use of…
  • Instructions for…
  • Comments about…

To further increase productivity, follow these four guidelines for writing forecasting subject lines:

  • Should repeat key words from paragraph 1
  • Should be written last – after a rough draft is completed
  • Should not be a sentence or a question
  • Strive for no more than 50 characters

A Small Step that Offers Big Results
Forecasting subject lines are a simple yet powerful tool for Writing to Get Things Done. By stating the business application of your message in the subject line, you will entice your readers to learn more and take action. Consistently follow this simple tip and watch your productivity grow.

Stu Tanquist served on the board of the third largest ASTD chapter for four years and authored two best selling Info-Lines. He teaches employees how to meet important deadlines and keep projects on target by writing emails that get things done. Stu can be reached at www.BerryWritingGroup.com or 612-799-1686.

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  1. Farmer Dave
    January 12, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Good post!

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