Think about all the emails you receive during the course of a workday. Which ones are the most effective – and why?
Email remains the most common form of written communication in the business world – and the most commonly abused. How can you craft professional email messages that get your point across in an efficient manner and best achieve the desired results?
Be Clear and Concise
All those emails you find in your inbox? Well, your recipient probably gets just as many, if not more. To help ensure they read yours, organize your thoughts before writing. Keep your message clear, concise and on point while being friendly and professional.
- Use meaningful verbiage in your subject line. It’s not enough to simply entitle your message “Important!” Instead, say something like, “Thursday, Feb. 28 Sales Report Deadline.” Similar to a news headline, your subject line should carry the main point of your message or the idea you want the recipient to take away.
- Put your main point in your opening sentence. People are busy. They may not stick around for a surprise ending.
- Two to three paragraphs is a good rule of thumb. If your message needs to be longer, consider adding an attachment.
- Avoid text speak. Don’t assume that your reader will understand acronyms and abbreviations common to texting. They may wonder WUWT (what’s up with that).
- Use a signature block. This should include your name, business address, telephone number and if required by your company, a legal disclaimer. You probably don’t need to clutter your signature box with artwork or clever quotes.
- Format your email so it’s easy to read. Use white spaces to separate paragraphs and bullet points to pinpoint key details. Boldface critical dates and other information.
Practice Email Etiquette
Think before and as you write your email. Think again before you send it. Brevity is key, but this does not equate to being snarly, inappropriate or rude.
- Start with a friendly greeting and if possible, use the recipient’s name. This engages the reader, as they feel the message is meant specifically for them. If it’s a group message, use a greeting such as “Hello Everyone” or “Dear Members of the Nominating Committee.”
- Say “please” and “thank you.” This one is self-explanatory.
- Do not use all caps. This is the equivalent of email shouting and it’s seen as rude and overbearing.
- Reply promptly to serious messages. If you need more than one business day to make a decision or gather information, send a brief interim response explaining the delay.
Proofread and edit your message before you hit “send.”
- Run a spelling and grammar check. Also, determine whether there are any links or attachments that you failed to add.
- Consider reading it out loud. If the message is important enough, this is a great way to literally hear how it will sound to others.
On a final note, remember that email is never private. Even after a message is deleted, a backup is stored on a server and can be accessed. So if your message is highly confidential, you may want to consider delivering it in person or via a letter or phone call.
The career coaches at Alternative Staffing offer additional resources for building your career and enhancing your professional life. Contact us today.