Your pastor is busy. Your committee chairs have day jobs. Your volunteers are being pulled in a million different directions and the only difference between you hosting a successful parish event and overseeing a complete disaster is the information contained in the email you are about to send. How do you make sure your email gets the job done? Simple. Use bullets and numbered lists.

In today’s world parishioners don’t read your emails – they scan them. So it’s critical that you write emails that are easy to scan. Don’t bury important points inside of paragraphs. Use lists instead.

Bullets and numbered lists allow the recipient to quickly pull out the most important information.

Benefits to using lists instead of paragraphs include:

  • They draw the reader’s attention
  • They look clean and orderly
  • They let you present complex information in bite-size pieces
  • They provide step-by-step guidance to the reader

You should use numbered lists instead of bullets if…

  1. You’re providing driving directions
  2. You’re sharing instructions that need to be followed in sequence
  3. You’re assigning tasks
  4. You’re sharing thoughts or ideas that need to be referenced later
  5. You’re placing items in priority order

Breaking down your emails into bulleted and numbered lists makes it easy for people to understand, internalize, and respond to what it is you’re telling them.

Doing the opposite – burying information and action items inside of lengthy paragraphs – just leads to decision fatigue and inactivity on the part of your audience.

When your email absolutely, positively must be understood, use bullets and numbered lists to get the job done.