CHARLIE: It's a terrible thing but I feel like we're all in contest for each other's attention and there is an art to capturing someone's attention and respecting it.
ZAK: Charlie Harding is a musician and co-host of the wonderful podcast, Switched on Pop. He's got some advice today about e-mailing and doing your best to get the attention of whomever you're writing.
CHARLIE: I get way too many emails asking for things because I'm a music journalist and that means I get nearly 100 press requests a day where people are saying, like, 'hey, I would love to have x artist on your show' or I have really wonderful listeners who are like, 'hey, I have this brilliant musical idea. I'd like to share it with you. Can we discuss it?'
ZAK: And what does it do to you, getting all these messages?
CHARLIE: I live in a constant stat of panic. I feel a great sense of responsibility to get back to people. And it would take more than my full day to provide a meaningful response to every note that I get.
ZAK: What would make your life easier in dealing with this barrage of emails?
CHARLIE: Because I sometimes have to ask for things. I try to put myself in the other person's shoes and think, well, they don't have any time so how can I say something meaningful. And it basically distills down to this. If you're gonna write an email, it should be three very short paragraphs. We're talking like, six sentences total, maybe eight. And it should have a pretty clear structure. First paragraph, who are you? Why are you writing? Second paragraph is, show me that you've done extensive research about whatever your question is...that you know the work that I've done...I think especially because I make work for public consumption, I expect that you've gone and looked to see if I've actually reported on the thing already. And then third paragraph, make a very ask with a very specific question that clearly, I'm the only person that can provide the answer to that question and I feel so thoroughly ingratiated by all the research that you've done, of course I'm gonna get back to you.
ZAK: And it's also reminded me that as I've been pitching a lot of people to come on this show, what I've grown to love maybe the most, is a quick no, When people can't do it, when they respond fast and say, 'thank you so much for asking but it's not gonna happen,' like that's great. I'm so grateful for a quick response.
CHARLIE: Totally. No, that's for real. Being dragged along forever and ever like I did for you is probably the worst thing anyone can do. hahah.
ZAK: It wasn't forever and ever.
CHARLIE: But here's the thing is like, like, the reason why this is actually an important matter is that we all just need to be freed from the constraints of our barrage of communication and had everybody else been writing me nice, effective, brief emails like yours then I would actually get to them all much more timely. hahaha.
ZAK: Yeah, and now maybe they will.
CHARLIE: I hope so. hahah. Charlie Harding podcasts and responds to emails from Los Angeles, California.
ZAK: Do you have some advice that might save us some time or energy? I would love to hear it. Let me know by calling our hotline 844-935-BEST.