Speak to an Interest You Share

Sometimes it's not cost-effective to use people's names. In some mass mailings, for example, even with a mail-merge capability, the cost of adding individual names may not be deemed an appropriate expenditure. Instead, ask yourself why you're writing to these people and how that relates to something they want or need. By honing in on why your readers might want to read your communication, it becomes easier to identify what the shared interest is.

Julia, a manager of software development at a midsize computer company, explained, "I was writing an E-mail to my group. I could have said 'Dear Team' or 'Dear Development Group.' Instead I focused on the subject matter of the E-mail, which was a query about whether we were going to be able to meet a critical deadline. Given the hours we had put in, and especially the analysts who had been working fifty- and sixty-hour weeks to complete this phase of the project, I used 'Dear Anyone Interested in Working Fewer Hours.' Not only did it help the E-mail get read, but it got a laugh. Always a good thing when you're stressed about meeting a deadline."

Notice that Julia highlighted an area of shared interest to the readers: working fewer hours.

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