Email-Writing Workshops

The Office of the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) is pleased to offer once again a series of four email-writing workshops to interested Student Life and Learning personnel: Cornerstones of Email Communication, Responding to Email Effectively, Inspiring Action with Email, and Fine-tuning your Email Communication.

Each workshop, facilitated by the McGill Writing Centre's Diane Dechief and/or Zachary Abram, offers strategies and best practices for effective email communication.

Available Workshops

Cornerstones of Email Communication (90 minutes)

December 2, 2016, James Administration Building, Room 301, 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.


December 5, 2016, James Administration Building, Room 301, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Register here

Writing an effective email is one part art, one part science. Learn how to get the balance right!

What makes for an effective email subject line? How many topics should one email address? Email is the primary means of professional communication at McGill, but it is also a digital tool with its own peculiarities. Despite increasingly depending on email at work and home, well-intentioned writers may send messages that puzzle or even offend their readers. When audience (A) is poorly targeted, purpose (P) and organization (O) aren’t clear, and style (S) is not considered, misunderstandings abound. This workshop applies the APOS framework to enable participants to apply established principles for effective writing to their everyday email practice.

Responding to Email Effectively (75 minutes)


Target your Audience, achieve your Purpose, Organize your content, and do it all with Style.

How do you distance yourself in an email correspondence? What organizational strategies work best for efficiently responding to email requests? How can you convey a “firm but polite” tone? Workshop participants will leave better prepared to communicate via email with their colleagues and the public. This workshop builds on APOS, a framework for effective written communication, in order to provide effective strategies for getting your readers’ attention (Audience), politely directing people to appropriate resources (Purpose; Style), saying “no” when necessary (Purpose), and responding to queries succinctly (Organization; Style).


Inspiring Action with Email (90 minutes)


Your reader’s inbox is crowded. Ensure that your email stands out!

Some people spend more than a quarter of their workday reading and responding to emails (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012), making it likely that they will skim or even ignore many messages. How, then, can you get your reader’s attention and inspire them to action? By employing proven persuasive techniques, you can increase the chances of your email achieving its purpose. This workshop addresses how to get a reader’s attention, how to craft a clear request (e.g., one for response to a survey or invitation), how to make your request stand out, and how to use language and structure to compel readers to respond.


Fine-tuning your Email Communication (60 minutes)


Tired of hearing about email faux pas at work? Afraid that something in your next email may be the target of water cooler gossip?

Come to this interactive talk to discuss some of the common challenges of email communication. What level of formality should you use when emailing people of different ranks in your organization? When should you “Reply All”? When is it appropriate to follow up on emails to which you have not yet received a reply? How do you ensure your emails appear “professional”? Answers to such questions often depend on context. In this session, you are invited to engage in a conversation about conventions and recommended practices for sending appropriate and professional emails.