How to Prevent the Reply All Tsunami

Jen Lawrence
Jen Lawrence

Operational Efficiency Expert. Creating ease through systems.

We’ve all been there. An email is sent to a large distribution list and suddenly – ping! ping! ping! A flood of replies ensues.

Then here comes my favorite email, “Can everyone stop hitting reply all?”

Ha! That’s super helpful!

The sad part is this onslaught of emails is usually well-intentioned. Think about the last time this happened to you. What is the common message?

My very unscientific estimation would be 99% of the time the responses were words of congratulations. Sweet, right? Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t need to read those words of celebration.

So, the question is – how do we escape the tsunami of “Reply All” emails?

The answer is so simply brilliant that you’ll want to share this tip with all your coworkers (and you should! End all email tsunamis!)

Prevention is key. Implement this practice with your team, and you will never be flooded with “Reply All” emails again.

Here’s what you do…

  • Formulate your email as you normally would.
  • Instead of putting the email addresses in the “To” or “CC” lines, move them to the “BCC” line. Did you know BCC’ed addresses can’t “Reply All”?

But, wait. Won’t this lead people to unnecessarily forward the email onto more people? Only if you skip the next step.

  • In the body of your email, type “Sent to:” then copy/paste or summarize the emails from the BCC line.

An exact copy/paste will give you long-form email addresses (e.g. “John Doe <>” or “All Employees <>”.) Depending on the number of addresses, this could be a huge chunk of text added to the body of your email. You may opt to summarize by copy/pasting the BCC email addresses and remove everything between the “< >” brackets.

The location of the “Sent to:” text will be dictated by how many emails you have. If you have a short, tidy list of addresses, place it right at the top before your greeting. If it’s a longer list, consider putting it at the end of your email.

To differentiate the “Sent to:” text from the rest of the email body, use simple formatting. I like to italicize my font and change the color to gray.

For example:

Sent to: DL-Legal, DL-Human Resources, DL-Customer Service

Hello Team,

Please join me in congratulating Susan Smith on her recent promotion to Director, Customer Contracts. Susan will be responsible for…

That’s it! That’s all you have to do.

A few extra moments of effort makes all the difference. Now everyone can feel free to congratulate Susan without bombarding everyone who received the email.

Remember, this is most effective if you get your whole team on board. So introduce them to this tip, and you won’t be sorry. I promise!

Happy emailing!

Jen Lawrence is a productivity and systems expert passionate about creating ease through systems. With over fifteen years of administrative and project management experience, she helps entrepreneurs develop custom client experience and operations solutions so they can transition from the Chief of Everything to CEO. Learn more about Jen Lawrence at

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