I recently spoke to a group of college students embarking on their first consulting projects. We discussed the email updating portion of the projects and there were tips that I hadn’t really put into words before but have always practiced. So I thought it would be fun to share them here!
Subjects on these emails should be “Update on (project) – First Update” or “Update on (project) – Midpoint” or something like that. Consider these will get filed and if they need to be accessed later, it is helpful to have subjects that make that easy.
If you are doing an update email for a client, start with a thank you for the project or their time or something. If you are struggling with a project, you are nervous or concerned or generally freaked out. Typically because that is your focus, it is more difficult to focus on anything else. So the person who starts with “thank you” is obviously cool, confident and collected.
Next, bullet point your update. If you have more than 2 punctuation marks in your sentence, shorten it. People don’t have time to read a lot and everyone is very good at scanning email.
Don’t put questions in a project update. In fact, you can tell your client that right up front. Actionable items should go in separate emails so it is easy to respond. Updates should be written so the person can forward it to whoever they need to update or file away for future reference.
Your sign off should include the date they will receive the next update. That way if they do go back into the files, they can more easily find the next update.
Help your clients to feel good about working with you and they will do it more often!