A Simple Way to Write Better Emails

How to leverage clear communication in your business

Ben Putano


Communication IS Leverage

Like most people, you probably regard email and team chat as necessary evils. You have to do them, obviously, but they're not all that important.

This couldn't be further from the truth.

As a founder and leader, your NUMBER ONE JOB is to promote clear communication within your ranks.

Why? Because communication = leverage

And a lack of communication = chaos

Think about it this way. Here's an excerpt from a Harvard Business Review article by VC and executive coach, Jon Hamm:

In the end, the power of clear communication is really a game of leverage. A CEO who communicates precisely to ten direct reports, each of whom communicates with equal precision to 40 other talented employees, effectively aligns the organization’s commitment and energy around a clear, well-understood, shared vision of the company’s real goals, priorities, and opportunities. He or she saves the company time, money, and resources and allows extraordinary things to happen.

The lesson here is simple:

Spend extra care to be EXTRA clear in your written communication. It will save you time, resources, and a ton of headaches.

Remember: Communication IS leverage

✏️ Writing Framework: The Inverted Business Pyramid

Clear communication starts with defining your purpose.

WHY are you writing in the first place? What is your goal?

To help you communicate clearly every time, I created a simple framework:

The Inverted Business Pyramid.

The inverted business pyramid, from top to bottom: Most important thing, key details, what it means for reader, background info, next steps

This is a tool to organize your information for crystal clarity:

  1. Start with the most important thing first. Don't dilly dally
  2. Share key details (For example, when and where you moved the meeting or who is taking over the project)
  3. Answer the crucial question, "What does it mean for me?" (i.e., the recipient)
  4. Background info: Valuable but not crucial
  5. Next steps: Never assume these are clear

The Inverted Business Pyramid was adopted from the Inverted Pyramid framework used in journalism. When writing newspaper articles, journalists had to ensure they said the most important thing first, otherwise it could get lopped off at the end to save room. (Side note: this is background info)

You don't need to worry about saving space, but your writing is limited by something else: your reader's attention.

Next time you write an email, memo, or even a chat message, say the most important thing first.

Follow this framework to design a clear message.

📚 Quick Read: The Five Messages Leaders Must Manage by Jon Hamm

This is the piece from which I pulled the excerpt above. It's a must read for any leader or founder who want to become a better communicator

Here's another one of my favorite excerpts:

In observing CEOs, I’ve come to the conclusion that the real job of leadership is to inspire the organization to take responsibility for creating a better future. I believe effective communication is a leader’s single most critical management tool for making this happen.

Read the full article