Writing an Email: Strategy by Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs’ Way of Writing an Effective Email

An effective email writing is an essential skill for everyone who considers themselves successful should develop perfectly in our technological and dynamic world. We can even say that composing qualitative emails is a special kind of art, and those talented in it get to the top easier and faster.

One of such artists was Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and a pioneer of the microcomputer revolution. Thus, we will discuss main elements that make correspondence coherent and cohesive on examples from the letter of Steve Jobs to James Murdoch, an executive at News Corp.

Use a Name of an Addressee

Dale Carnegie once said: “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”, and his words illustrate the first essential point of effective correspondence.

It is a good thing to start the letter with a recipient’s name even if it is not the first email in the correspondence between you. Of course, there is no need to mention it every time, but the person’s name will hint that you know and respect him or her. It may also be an effective tool when you try to convince the addressee or prove your point.

Make It Well-Structured and Clear

Take your time to write logical and cohesive, move from one point to another in such a way that the contents are clear and understandable after the first reading. The choice of the language should also be appropriate and accurate to avoid ambiguity and confusion.

It is not recommended to use any filler words like adjectives, adverbs, as they make sentences longer and may prevent readers from getting to the point of the message. Therefore, sentences in Steve Job’s letters are concise and straightforward:

Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy and once started there will be no stopping it.”

Use the active voice, as it sounds more clear and confident. The passive voice is considered to be weaker and more confusing. This point is exemplified in the following paragraph:

“Our proposal does set the upper limit for ebook retail pricing based on the hardcover price of each book. The reason we are doing this is that, with our experience selling a lot of content online, we simply don’t think the ebook market can be successful with pricing higher than $12.99 or $14.99.”

Watch Your Language

Impeccable grammar, spelling, and vocabulary is an essential part of any effective letter, so make sure your emails are error-free. Those who write in a proper style, format without any mistakes are more likely to be perceived as well-educated people, whose opinion has a value. Therefore, flawless language makes an addresser more convincing and influential, and his or her letters are likely to have the desired impact. In a situation with News Corp. the aim was to convince it to supply e-books to iPads:

“Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99.”

Create an Illusion of Control

It is important to show an addressee that he or she controls the situation and the writer is not in charge. One way to do that is to ask an opinion of the recipient and hint that you wait for them to offer solutions. A good thing to express that with the help of language is a question at the end of a letter, as in:

“Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see any other alternatives. Do you?”

Feel free to share your observations on how to write efficient emails. Do you have some? 🙂

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