I recently led a panel discussion at the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives' International Conference in Toronto, where my fellow industry magazine editors spoke of how bogged down they have become by e-mail. Most of it is from suppliers trying to get coverage in their magazines, and most of it they would never print — but few of the senders take the time to find out what editors actually do need.

That same day, at another session, speaker Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, CSP, (www.speakersue.com) had a roomful of incentive planners and suppliers reeling about the invasion of e-mail — much of it junk — into our everyday work lives. We set up spam filters, but then they filter out some of the things we actually want to get. We're bogged down with attachments and space-hogging graphics files that people unthinkingly forward. We join listservs for information to do our jobs better and are bombarded with chatter.

When we're on the road, we're constantly checking our PDAs. The message centers at conventions are packed with people catching up on e-mail during breaks — instead of networking with the other attendees.

But if all of us took some simple steps, we could help to stop some of this information overload. For example, think a little harder before you hit that Send button. It's not always about getting the word out to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Think hard before you copy dozens of people on a strand. Think even harder before you click Reply All. (Did you know that Yahoo actually did away with that option on its corporate intranet?) Make sure that the person you are targeting is the correct person for that information, not just some name you pulled off the Web. If you are in marketing, consider other options before inundating people with electronic promotions. Is there another way to get the word out? Do they really need to know what you're trying to tell them?

Finally, make sure that what you're sending is clear, spell-checked, and written in the correct tone. As Hershkowitz-Coore put it, “Treat the recipients with respect — as you would want to be treated.”
Barbara Scofidio


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