Writing emails is nothing new. It has been around for decades and it still remains as one of the most widely-used electronic means of business or personal communication.
Whether you are writing to a boss or a friend, having the ability to compose an effective email will help improve your productivity and the responsiveness from your readers. Since most people are busy and won’t have much time to spend reading a lengthy email, how can you convey a message that accomplishes the results that you want?
Let’s look at some ways to ensure that your emails are always clear and successful with their goals.
Know Your Desired Results
Without carefully considering what our desired results are, our thoughts become scattered and send a confusing message to the receiver. Do you want the receiver to do something in the form of a reply, perhaps to answer a question or give advice? Then a reply should be your desired result. If you require some action on the part of the receiver, then the reply is not the goal but the action itself (for example, a refund request, link exchange, or to download an eBook).
When intentions are clear and straightforward, the better your email will be directed to its desired outcome.
Determine if Sending an Email is Really Necessary
The sheer amount of emails people receive on a daily basis would burn out anyone at work. So before composing an email, ask yourself if it’s necessary to send one. If there’s a possibility that there will be back-and-forth dialogue, picking up the phone or using the instant messaging tool might be the best way to do it.
Remember, emails are also not as secure as you might think since the involved parties might accidentally forward sensitive emails or remove the conversation history thread.
Make Your Subject Lines Shine
Your email’s subject line should capture the reader’s attention to help the receiver decide if they should read it or not. When you leave the subject line blank, it will most likely go unnoticed or sent to the spam folder. It pays off to use the right words to briefly summarize what the email is about and increase the chances of having it read.
A well crafted email subject line such as the one below must provide the important details even without the recipient opening the email. If certain emails are sent regularly, such as weekly reports, you may want to add the date of the report in the subject line and CTA (call-to-action) to get the recipient’s response. Example: “Weekly Yield Analysis Report: Need your reply by December 6.”
Make it Simple and Straight to the Point
Your reader may not have all day to read through a long, rambling email. Cut out the unnecessary details and just go straight to the point. You will likely need to include some supporting details, but if you state your crucial points upfront, there’s a good chance your email will get a prompt response.
Show them you respect their time by keeping your emails short and simple. Use few words as much as possible by introducing yourself and the reason for writing.
Keeping it short does not mean it should come out mundane. You can still be creative with your words as long as it maintains its brevity. You don’t have to elaborate too much unless you are asked. Just stick to the facts and keep your message to a bare minimum.
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Evaluate the Tone
You can figure out how another person is feeling just by checking out their facial expression, body language, and tone of voice. Emails don’t provide these types of information so that means we don’t know if people will misinterpret the message or not.
Without any visual or auditory clues, the words used and even the punctuation and capitalization might be misunderstood. Reread your email and think about how the email feels emotionally. If the tone and intention might be misinterpreted, then look for another way to rephrase it better. Notice how the same emails below have a different approach in tone:
Need you to send your analysis report by 2pm or else I won’t have anything to present to Mr. Lopez, our client.
Thank you for your effort in completing the analysis report. Please send it to me by 2 PM so I can present it to Mr. Lopez, our client. Thank you.
Some people think that emails are more informal than conventional letters. Regardless of the platform used, the message you send conveys your character and professionalism, so the right level of formality is required.
Unless you are close friends with the recipient, refrain from using emoticons, slang, and informal language. Make sure to end your message with “Yours Truly,” “Sincerely,” or “Best Regards,” depending on the situation. The recipients might want to print or forward them to others so be as professional and polite as possible.
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Create an Appropriate Layout
Nothing could be worse than opening an email written with font that is too small or too big, in all caps, or in bright colors that will make reading it unbearable.
Make sure to use readable fonts like Arial or Times New Roman in standard size (10-11 points). Do not bold out the entire text and use flashy colors as it can be hard to read from different monitors.
Keep emails organized and easy to scan by using bullet points and using brief paragraphs. Bold and italics should only be used sparingly to highlight keywords.
Make Email Signatures Relevant
Whether the purpose for sending the email is for personal or business reasons, it’s best to make your email signatures useful. There’s actually more to it than just using it to display your favorite quotes.
Your signature should have the following: your name, position/job title, work and email address and/or contact number, links to website, and social media profile. You can also add a line that promotes your product or blog.
Before hitting the “send” button, always edit your email for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. An email riddled with lots of typos, misused words, and poor sentence construction will make you look bad no matter how good-looking and presentable you are in person.
Here are some proofreading tips:
1. Start reading your message from the beginning or working your way backwards (starting with the last sentence, all the way in reverse to the beginning). Do whichever is comfortable for you.
2. Read your message aloud. Doing so will allow you to read each word and will increase the odds of spotting a typo.
3. Use proofreading tools. Sometimes, no matter how good we are at proofreading, mistakes can still happen. Gmail has a secret feature that allows you to “unsend” an email, but this feature needs to be enabled first before it can be used. Another great online proofreading tool is Grammarly. It reviews for accuracy and plagiarized content in just a few seconds.