A few simple tips are all it takes to make your business emails clearer, more concise and more effective.
Consider this: the average office worker spends 2.5 hours per day reading and responding to emails – that’s a third of your day spent on this one writing task. And yet, most of us don’t put any advance thought into how to structure or prepare our emails. After all, the last thing we want is for emails to take more time.
Putting a little forethought into your email will make your communication clearer and help you get better results
But putting a little forethought into your email will make your communication clearer and help you get better results – saving time and effort in the long run.
What’s in an Email
Composing a business email presents a specific set of challenges and considerations that other forms of writing don’t.
First off, there’s the tone – just how formal should it be? Then there’s the subject line, the greeting, and the sign off to consider. And how can you make sure that the recipient responds with the information you need?
A few tips will help make this one time-consuming task a lot easier.
It might seem counterintuitive, but think about it: would you rather receive one long email with four requests regarding four different projects, or four short and clearly titled emails for each request? Keeping to one message per email – or at least one project for email – makes tracking progress simpler for all involved.
Jotting down what you need to say in point form first will help you stick to the essentials. Make sure there’s a clear train of thought and that you’re not including unnecessary details. Outlining can also help you avoid straying into emotional language – particularly useful if you’re feeling frustrated or stressed.
Keeping to one message per email – or at least one project for email – makes tracking progress simpler for all involved
Consider what they should know by the time they finish reading and provide any background information they might need.
Keep in mind that people tend to best remember the last thing they read, so put next steps at the end. Ideally everyone reading the email should know exactly what’s required of them by the time they finish.
Use keywords in your subject line so the recipients can easily identify what the email is about – and can find it again later. If your business uses naming conventions or a taxonomy, incorporate them into your subject lines.
Make sure that what you choose to use is appropriate for the relationship.
Be clear, brief, polite and professional.
Proofread and double check the details.
Check that you’ve actually attached any relevant files and read it over one last time – preferably out loud – to check for any mistakes before hitting send.
Make sure you have the right recipients, that relevant parties are cc’d, and that you’re using a proper subject line. Check that you’ve actually attached any relevant files and read it over one last time – preferably out loud – to check for any mistakes before hitting send.
Emails may take up a lot of our workdays, but they needn’t be a stressful task. By following the steps above, your emails will quickly become shorter, easier to write, and get better results.
For more tips on improving your business writing, check out the other posts in our ‘Notes from the Copywriter’s Desk’ series.
Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash