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You have mail…


Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by “abroad” – by which I mean, from my Anglo-centric viewpoint, any country that wasn’t the UK.  I’m of a certain age, which means I predate email, when the only way of contacting people abroad was to send them airmail letters.  I vividly remember the excitement of seeing one of those lovely blue envelopes hit the mat, the glamour and mystique of the strange address and the poetry of the phrase “par avion”.  Weeks would pass between posting a letter and getting a reply, the excitement would build and the eventual letter would be read and re-read, digested, considered and then finally responded to.

All that’s changed now, of course.  Nowadays, I can text friends on the other side of the world and get a reply almost instantly – assuming they’re awake, of course.  I can share pictures of events with friends in at least six other countries (and comment on pictures of their events) through Facebook and Twitter.  The waiting for the postman has gone, replaced by the much shorter wait for the ping of the email inbox.  Lest this sound like an old man’s paean to a bygone age, let me be clear: what we’ve lost in romance we’ve more than gained in sheer convenience.  I’m in touch with friends now in a way that simply wouldn’t be possible twenty – or even ten – years ago.

But there is, of course, a price to be paid.  Email has revolutionised communication but it’s brought a whole slew of problems along with its tremendous advantages.  And while email itself is steadily becoming less popular amongst what I suppose I must now call the “younger generation” it’s still the dominant form used in business.  So if you feel overwhelmed by email, over the next couple of weeks I’ll be taking a look at some email best-practise to help alleviate the information overload you might be feeling.

We’ll start next week by looking at a few of the basic skills but if you have any hints and tips on how to make email – and, in particular, the main tool for using email, Microsoft’s Outlook – work better for you, do please drop me a line or add a comment.

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