I first heard about the "5 Sentence Email" in a comment that was in response to this question: I emailed my customer asking multiple questions. Their reply addressed only one. What is the polite way to point this out? where @Mallow said in the comment:

You can also take a look at the 5-sentence email: entrepreneur.com/article/226581

This piqued my interest because I would very much like to reclaim some of the of time I spend emailing, which is considerable. The article talks about the sort of philosophy behind the "5 Sentence" thing, and gives some strategy, but no concrete example.

For instance the article says:

  1. Your email should answer five simple questions. When you write an email, Kawasaki says it should provide just enough information to answer these five questions: Who are you? What do you want? Why are you asking me? Why should I do what you're asking? What is the next step?

Now I realize that having an "email template" maybe isn't the most realistic/practical idea but I feel like an example of such an email that follows the guidelines described in the "5 Sentence Email" article I linked, would be very helpful.

I've tried googling for such an example or template. All I found was this site: http://five.sentenc.es/, which is helpful in regards to maybe having an email signature about the "5 Sentence" guidelines, but doesn't really offer any advice on the actual email body itself.

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    What exactly is your question? Do you want to see the template? Do you want to know when you should use the template? Do you want to know if anyone else is using the template? Do you want to know if it is a good idea to use the template? I have read through your entire post and I still don't know what exactly you want. – Masked Man Apr 24 '15 at 2:58
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    There's nothing special about the "five" (5) sentences, it can be more or less. Just get to the point, be polite and make sure the email is pertinent. – teego1967 Apr 24 '15 at 10:24

I don't believe that a template is appropriate because it depends on the past history and how much of the five questions are implicit.

  • Who are you?

Is this to a stranger, a distant acquaintance, a collaborator on a project, a work colleague, a friend, your spouse? The detail you need depends on the proximity of the relationship - for the back end of this list your email address probably answers it.

  • What do you want?

Again, not really subject to a template - this is the key thing that is driving you to write the email and it can range from the very specific ("What specification bolt do I use for X?") to the very general ("The settlement of the First World War laid the foundations of Fascism. Discuss."). Avoid sending emails when the purpose is "I'm covering my arse with paperwork" - unless you work in contract law of course.

  • Why are you asking me?

This will always be a variation on the theme of "You are the best person to answer my question because ..."

  • Why should I do what you're asking?

Or "What's in it for me?" What you are looking for here is common goals, or how them helping you helps them. The relationship is important, if you share a common purpose (staying married for example) the "pitch" can be implicit or, for a more distant relationship (colleagues on a project), show how it advances the common goal. For a cold call the pitch is that you have a common purpose. This has to be succinct call to action - if you need a 28 page feasibility analysis then email is the inappropriate forum.

  • What is the next step?

Or "What do I have to do" - the big one. Hold their hand "I need you to press the red button next to the green one and to the right of the blue one." Make it so they have to engage in a minimum of effort to help you. If you want them to call someone, give them that person's number; if you want them to read something; attach it; if you want them to visit a web page; give them the direct link.

If it takes more than 5 sentences to do this then what you are asking is too hard - people do not come back to emails - they do what it asks then and there ort they forget about it. If you want them to make an effort then you have to make that effort as trivial as possible.


In terms of the Kawasaki guidelines, I'd imagine it'd be something like this:

I'm Peter. I'm looking to get an investment for my house cleaning PaaS. Mr. Hoshi recommended you to me. I already have a solid growth plan and a huge customer base. Please look at my website here, and call me on 010-12345899 if you want to talk.

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