The Anatomy of a Pre-Drafted Email

I'm fairly effusive and passionate about pre-drafting email. But what's the specific anatomy of a pre-drafted piece? In this article, I'll break down my thinking process, step by step. [rebel]

Step 1: Why

[contextly_sidebar id="Y4gEA996ClEEeLz69NczzmwT9BIgkDaL"]I'll kick off the email with a tweet-length contextual description of why I want my entrepreneur to send this particular piece. Keep it short, strategic and supercharged.

Some examples of contextual descriptions you could use after your salutation:

Urgency: "Our vendor is being unresponsive. I've tried X, Y and Z to no avail. Can you send the following email from your account?"

Introduction: "I'm having trouble with [X Problem], and I think [Person in Your Entrepreneur's Network] could help. Can you please send the following email?"

Draft Blog or Interview: "This [interview] is due on [date]. I took a first shot at drafting this -- see below. Let me know how else I can help!"

Step 2: What

Next, I'll come up with the actual draft. No matter what I end up writing, my draft must answer the following question: What action(s) do I need my entrepreneur to take or facilitate?

If I want a status update, or an introduction, or his/her edits, I make sure that I specifically call this out in either my intro (Step 1) or in the drafted email itself. I'll also craft a great subject line for my entrepreneur to use to ensure we get some action. (See tips here.)

Entrepreneurs are geniuses, but they aren't mind-readers -- this step ensures that we get the best results from their invested time.

Step 3: Who

Next, I determine the relevant parties to include in this particular piece of communication. If it's an email I want my entrepreneur to send to, say, Johnny Appleseed, and Johnny has an assistant named Jamie, I'll include both Johnny and Jamie's email addresses. And if I'm writing about a shared project and want to CC my teammate, I'll call that out too.

Here's what that portion of the email might look like:

Subject: ACTION REQUIRED: Update on A360 Deliverables To: CC:,,

Now all my entrepreneur needs to do is copy and paste into the appropriate fields. The easier it is for the entrepreneur, the faster he or she will do it, and the sooner you'll get your results.

Step 4: When

Finally, I'll give my draft a final read-through for completeness... and I'll ensure that I indicate a timeline. When should the entrepreneur send this email? When do we need to hear back from the recipient? If any due dates apply, I make sure to call them out in the email, in my introduction, and even in my subject line for the actual email that contains the draft.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

Here's an example from start to finish:

To: Peter CC: Team Member A Subject: DRAFT: Email to Contractor X (PLEASE SEND ASAP)

Hi Peter,

I need a status update from Contractor X for our CRM migration. She has missed a deadline and is unresponsive to my calls and emails. Can you please send the following ASAP?

To: Contractor X CC:, Subject: ACTION REQUIRED: Update on CRM Migration

Hi Contractor X, Please send me a status update on our CRM migration. Marissa has unsuccessfully tried to get ahold of you all week. We need the system to be ready for our launch on Monday.

Please confirm receipt ASAP and update Marissa with exactly when you expect to finish the migration.

Thanks, Peter[/rebel]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.