Get a single email right and it could build you a priceless relationship or clinch you a deal you’ve been chasing for months. Get one wrong and it may just mean the death of an irreplaceable opportunity. For you and your organisation.
With 50, 60, 70 or more communications to read or respond to each day, emails are a prominent part of what we do and how we communicate with our colleagues and our customers. With other work priorities all screaming for our attention, it’s tempting to rush email writing. But this could be false economy.
In many cases, our email associations will remain faceless cyber relationships. People are quite literally building a picture of who you are and making decisive judgments about the organisation for which you work based almost entirely on the words you have crafted in emails.
The way you write your email reveals a great deal. Professionally written emails convey the message that you have respect for both the individual and the organisation you are communicating with. They show you have respect for the organisation you work for.
It’s important to take as much care to write emails in a professional way, just as you would any other written document. Poorly written emails with frequent typos, inappropriately uncapped letters, no introduction or nothing written in the subject line create a poor impression.
Supervisors take email writing very seriously. I’ve known people whose jobs were on the line because of their poor email-writing. So it’s critical to get it right. Every time.
Here are 10 surefire ways to make your emails hit the mark:
- Use complete sentences and words: Thank you for your email not Thks 4 ur email.
- Show the reader you value their time by making the email clear, concise and simple to answer. Get straight to the point by telling the reader in the first line what your email is about.
- Stick to one subject per email – new subject, new email.
- Write a compelling subject line to entice the reader to open your email.
- Change the subject line when the subject of your email changes – don’t just keep hitting the ‘reply’ button.
- Keep the number of questions or requests to no more than three. If you need a response to a question or request, make sure it stands out (for example, put the question or request on a new line rather than at the end of a paragraph, or use a different colour).
- Stick to the facts. You don’t have to tell the whole story, just what the reader needs to know.
- Use headings and bulleted and numbered lists to break up text and make it easy for the reader to find the information they need.
- Use bold to highlight important information, but don’t over-use bold. Avoid upper case as it looks as though you’re SHOUTING.
- Use a font that’s easy to read – Arial 10 or 12 point.
Despite the speed of transmission, emails are not temporary communications – they are there forever. For important or sensitive emails, save the email to draft and check it later.
Having smart phones means many of us are pushing out emails on the run, at lunch, on the bus or train. Regardless of whether you’re sitting at your desk or tapping into your smart phone, you need to take the same amount of care. Craft your emails carefully and always re-read them at least once before sending. The rewards will be yours.
To raise the standard of your organisation’s email writing, contact Concise Writing Consultancy on 02 9238 6638.