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How to Write an Engaging Email

I don’t read all my emails. I hardly ever read the stuff that goes to promotions or social or trash or spam. And I skip more than half of those in my regular inbox!

Yet, once in a while, I receive a mass email that I can’t help but open and read all the way through and respond to. And I feel awesome that I did so because that email actually changes my mood, my day, my week, my life.

I got an email like that this morning from Chris Winfield, a PR Expert who teaches people to do their own PR–and an amazing guy!

Chris Winfield’s Adorable Email

This is what it said:

Hi Lisa,

It’s a crazy time right now…or at least it sure feels that way!

And I don’t know about you…

But it’s really easy for me to feel “all over the place” and unbalanced…

So I have a cool exercise that I use to help me…

Ready for it?

Hit reply and answer these two simple questions:

  • What are 3 things that are working for you right now?
  • What are 3 things that aren’t?

Don’t overthink this…just hit reply and answer with the first things that come to your mind.

Writing this out will help you focus more on the things that are working and it will also show you what you need to improve on.

Sharing it with someone else (me in this case) will help you feel more connected… and it will also help me see what kind of content I can create to help you.

So hit reply now and let me know.

You got this,


P.S. Not only will I will be reading every single reply that comes through…

I’m going to randomly choose one person who replies with their answers and send them $1,000 cash (because I like to reward action takers  🙂

So hit reply now and let me know. You’ll feel so much better after you do!

What I Love About This Email

First, I love that it’s authentic. I can hear Chris’s voice in it. I felt connected right away. It didn’t feel like he was writing to thousands of people. It felt like he cared about me (he even says he’s going to read all the emails and I know Chris; he’s a man of his word).

Second, I love how succinct it is. The paragraphs are short. It doesn’t go on and on. It’s focused. It didn’t take long to read!

Third, I love that Chris gave me something to think about and do and he wasn’t selling anything. Sure, this information will help him get to know what people on his list most need and want. He says it will help him in creating something for us, but it doesn’t feel to me like it’s about selling. Chris genuinely wants to connect with and serve his people.

There’s an intimacy about it.

My Answers to Chris’s Questions

writing a book

What are 3 things that are working for you right now?

1. Spending more time in nature, exploring new trails throughout my town—in the woods, along the bay and wetlands. The time in nature centers and grounds me. Then working comes from a place where I am already filled and I can think more clearly and creatively. Plus the exercise restores and vitalizes me—mind, body and spirit! The colors this spring seem more vibrant, the woods more magical. I can’t explain it but the whole planet feels more alive than I’ve ever experienced before.

2. Giving myself more time to prepare for my launch so I don’t feel rushed and can do a bit every day without feeling overwhelmed. Overall, I’ve been setting better boundaries — saying no to projects and referring them to colleagues, or setting aside projects or ideas for the future so I’m not multitasking so many things at once. I have to keep on this though, I can often see myself starting to drift…Lisa, come back here!

3. Letting go of the achievement mindset and opening my heart more fully to an expansive service mindset (and fun!)

What are 3 things that aren’t?

1. Social media has felt tiring. I’d like to do more connecting but how to do it so it’s invigorating and not a time suck?

2. I need to make more time for my own writing, beyond just blog posts. Maybe more structure? I’m not so good with structure.

3. I spend too much time answering emails and often do that before the more important stuff – the “big rocks.”

What Chris’s Engaging Email Did For Me

As soon as I read Chris’s email, I felt uplifted. I smiled. It was fun. It reminded me how much I like Chris Winfield. And what a wonderful mentor and role model he is.

I felt inspired to do just what he invited me to do. If there wasn’t a $1,000 prize, I would have done it anyway. The invitation itself energized and activated me.

When I wrote my three things that are working, I felt great about the changes I’ve made in my life these past five months. Proud. Truly proud.

When I wrote my three things that aren’t working, I didn’t feel badly. I felt clear. Like, yes, these are problems I need to solve. These are important to me and I need to get creative about resolving them. I felt inspired about the problems!

Interestingly, before I sent the email, I did then think about the $1,000 prize. And I thought, “Why not go back and give this a little more thought? I might just win a prize.”

And so I did.

But going back over my answers didn’t just make them prize-worthy, which they may or may not be. It made my answers more meaningful and helpful to me! I worked a little harder, dug deeper.

Revisiting my answers helped me integrate them, made them more “top of mind.”

How Chris’s Engaging Email Reinforced My Best Habits

I sent off my response right away, because I know what happens when I wait. I also asked Chris whether it was okay to share his email in a blog post.

Then, I asked him about his upcoming DIY PR class since I know it will be the perfect next step for some of the writers in my community who are building their platforms or have published a book and want to reach more people with it. So, right away, the email had put me in a generous mindset – “What can I do for you?” How can I help you and serve my community at the same time?

I also asked Chris about getting back into the group program I signed up for in December. Once I got sick at the end of last year, I realized I needed to focus exclusively on health and wellbeing at the start of the year. I knew I wouldn’t have time for anything else. As I got back into teaching, I knew I needed to limit other work projects and make time for rejuvenating activities like the walks in nature I mentioned in my answers to Chris.

Now, my energy and work life are opening up. I can see a way to focus on book launch activities this summer in preparation for my Sept 22 launch (when I’m NOT teaching). Instead of my old habit of rushing into something, the immediacy of my answers to Chris’s questions helped me stay grounded and focused. I knew I needed more time before rejoining. So I asked about returning in July, when I plan to do less teaching and coaching to focus on launch preparation.

In Summary: 7 Steps to Write an Engaging Email That Truly Makes a Difference in Your Reader's Lives Click To Tweet

  1. Be Yourself: Chris’s authenticity engaged me immediately.
  2. Be Succinct: We all appreciate a short email that gets to the point right away, yes? And short paragraphs make it easy to read.
  3. Provide an action step: Chris invited us readers to respond to his engaging email and answer two questions. And he suggested we do it right away.
  4. Give a Gift: I love that this particular action step didn’t sell anything. It gave something! And the gift wasn’t something that would take lots of my time to receive.
  5. Inspire Your Readers: Chris shared the results that I would get from taking action. “Writing this out will help you focus more on the things that are working and it will also show you what you need to improve on.”
  6. Be Honest: Chris shares what’s in it for him as well. That it will help him with creating his next offering.
  7. Have Fun: I had so much fun with this email and I’m sure that part of the reason I enjoyed it is that Chris must have enjoyed writing an engaging email.

Your Turn

What are your insights and tips for writing an engaging email? Share below!

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


    • Lisa Tener says

      Great question, Regina. It was “quick question.” I think the lower case made it feel informal and personal and caught my attention.

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