94. Business Tip with Brie Johnson: How to Write Emails People Will Actually Read

Brie Johnson shares the inverted pyramid structure for emails and how to actually get your emails read and replied to.

Alessia Citro 0:02
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Alessia Citro 0:51
Hello, friends, I am back today with Brie Johnson. If you didn't catch our interview that aired yesterday, be sure and go listen to that there are some really good nuggets in there. Brie is a career coach and an HR consultant. And she helps entrepreneurs and small businesses keep humans as the focus while developing their HR strategies and procedures. She also helps moms who are ready to make a change in their careers, gain confidence and build a plan to climb the corporate ladder without guilt. And she is a founding member in Theia collective teaching on human resources. So Brie, thank you for being back. Today, you are going to share with us the inverted pyramid structure for emails, which when you shared this with me, I was like this is so simple and so effective. Why does everyone not know this? So we're going to help get the word out. So with that, I'll let you let you teach.

Brie Johnson 1:38
Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me back. Again, I'm so excited to be here. And I love this particular writing structure. This is one of those things where I can tell you firsthand, as soon as I started using this with my messages, I reduced my stress at work, I got the information that I needed the feedback that I wanted so much faster. And it was just easier to communicate what I wanted it to. And everything that you've probably been taught about writing is backwards from what I'm about to tell you. So it's going to feel funny at first, and that's okay, it will start to feel better, especially once you get the results that you're looking for. And it's this idea that I actually learned in a journalism class. And it's taking the most important the most urgent information and putting it first making that the very first thing that the person reading your email will see. And when you think about that academic structure that we're all familiar with, you've got your introduction, you've got your, you know, three ish paragraphs of supporting information. And then there's your conclusion. And that's the piece that you want to leave your reader with. That's the piece that allows them. So with this, it feels funny, because it's the exact opposite. It's what I need you to know, right away. It's answering that question that one of my earliest mentors used to say all the time as what's in it for me, everybody's favorite radio station is wi I fm, what's in it for me. So giving, he would say that all the time. And again, I'm still using it, you know, 20 years later. But it's, it's that idea of you're busy. The people getting your emails are busy. And depending on what they're using, if they're at their desk, they might see a little bit more of what's in your message. But if they're on their phone, they're going to be limited. One of my clients actually told me that his boss thanked him for using the structure and employing it after he and I worked together. Because the way the preview was set up on his boss's phone, he only saw the first two lines. So if he didn't know right away what that email was about, he would move on, and he would go to something else and try to come back to it later. And that's probably something that I think a lot of us experience is you send something out, and somebody doesn't respond right away, they intend to get back to it. But then you have to chase them down. So it's putting that most important information first, then putting the important details. And then any sort of general information or background information that might be helpful goes at the bottom. So in the piece that I use for training, it's actually an upside down triangle. And that's what it looks like. And it's to think about the heaviest or most important piece with the most weight goes up front. And I know I've said that a bunch of times, but that's what sets it apart. And there's a couple of examples that I give in what the messages sound like. And the example that I like it is actually one that similar to what I've used in the past. In my previous role before I was a corporate dropout, I regularly had to communicate with a group of hospital CEOs and let them know, hey, such and such shared contract is coming up for renewal. We want to renew it. Here's why. So one example of what that email would look like it sounds like, without the inverted pyramid is something like, we've been partnering with bcj insights, which for those of you who don't know, that's my company. So obviously, we want to renew that contract. We've been partnering with bcj insights, the services provided have been a valuable resource for your internal HR team and newly promoted managers. The contract is up for renewal next month, below are the key changes to the terms of the agreement, anticipate, like some bullet points there something like that, after careful consideration and review of the terms proposed, it's our recommendation to continue working together. And then there's some more information at the bottom of that you know, about deadlines and things like that. Knowing that people who were getting that those CEOs did not have time to dig through that kind of message and figure out what is Brie trying to tell me. So the same example, but using the inverted pyramid is our contract with bcj. And sites is up for renewal next month, after careful consideration and review of the terms proposed for the renewal. It's our recommendation to continue working together. So right there,

Brie Johnson 6:30
I've given them the key piece of the message and been able to say to them, This is what I need you to agree with. So the rest of the message is then built to get them to agree. And lets them know, here's what the terms are. Here's what we've done. Here's how long we've been working together. If you don't respond by such and such a date, I'm going to call you to get your answer so that they can very easily say yep, that's fine. Let's move on.

Alessia Citro 6:58
I love that. And so let me ask you to What's your thought on a lot of the filler that goes in the beginning like the pleasantries. I hope this finds you well, like I particularly I'm thinking in terms of like prospecting emails. I was in sales for many years. And a lot of the people who listen to this are too What's your thought on that? Just cut the fluff out, leave it at the end.

Brie Johnson 7:19
I generally prefer to cut the fluff out. I really do. I think that it's it's one of those things where if it's genuine, if it's you know, hey, Alessia, it was great talking with you yesterday. Here's something else I wanted to run by you. That's fine. That's straightforward. It's very specific to the person that you're emailing with. But if it's just a general, you know, Hey, happy Monday, I hope this email finds you. Well, it probably didn't. I'm probably in the middle of something else. And your email interrupted me. And now it has found me kind of grumpy.

Alessia Citro 7:54
I have to tell you. When I was when I was working at Google, I had a colleague who loved to start his emails with I trust this email finds you well, but he would send it to even like internal people that would be and I said, Actually, you shouldn't trust it found me well, because it didn't. And I was like, Do not stop saying that. I hate it. It's like my pet peeve. Anyway, sorry, not to go on a tangent. But yeah, I love that. So opening with the most important thing next, or first, then the supporting after that, and then any kind of sign off or anything like that. I gotta ask you to I wasn't expecting to ask you this. But just out of curiosity, what would you say is the best email sign off? And the worst? Like, sometimes people think that best is actually the worst or sincerely like, what do you like to close with just a dash and your name? Or what's your what's your thought?

Brie Johnson 8:48
Um, I generally will close with things. Because if I'm emailing you and I'm putting it in writing, it's probably something that I need you to do for me. So I like to close with that. Or if nothing else, I feel like I'm thanking you for your time. Yeah, and, you know, that sort of thing. I think the one that always kind of makes me roll my eyes is something like Kind regards, because it's, it's trying to be friendly and formal at the same time. And I would almost rather just not have anything there.

Alessia Citro 9:24
That sounds like BS and people's BS.

Brie Johnson 9:27
I think yeah. Yes, absolutely.

Alessia Citro 9:30
Well, I love this. Thank you so much for coming back on. I think everyone needs to adopt this. The headline of this episode will be how to write emails that people will actually read. And so I hope that it helps them do that. So thank you again for coming on and where can listeners find connection work with you?

Brie Johnson 9:47
I am easy to find on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. If you look for bcj insights, all one word on both of the on any of those platforms, you'll be able to find me there

Alessia Citro 9:58
and you can also connect with her are in Theia collective because she is part of the community and teaching in the course. So another great way to learn from Brie Brie, thank you so much for being on this was a pleasure

Brie Johnson 10:08
me. Yes, this is great.

Alessia Citro 10:11
See you soon. This episode was brought to you by Theia collective the learning community I found it for entrepreneurs text biz, that's BIZ to 949-577-8709 or head to Theia dash collective.com That's THEIA dash collective.com to learn more. Thanks for listening to the show. If you enjoyed today's episode, please help me get the word out about the corporate drop out by screenshotting and sharing this on social I would appreciate it so much if you would subscribe and leave a five star rating and review as well. And I do this show for you and I want to hear from you. So tell me what is it that you want more of text me at 949-541-0951 or slide into the DMS at corporate drop out official or Alesia Citro with two underscores until next time.